Teacher Identity in Assessment Policy and Practice within the General Education and Training Band.
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The democratic South Africa’s dual challenge in overcoming its own divisive history as well as addressing global economic imperatives, has led to transformations in education. Policy production thus takes place in an atmosphere infused by economic, political, social and cultural effects of globalization. Embedded within the wave of curriculum reform, are new forms of learner assessment which have shifted from being largely norm-based and summative to one which is formative, standards- based and continuous. The new discourse on assessment requires a ‘paradigm shift’ for most teachers implementing the new assessment policy. Although education policy reforms in schools challenge teachers’ existing practices and increases teachers’ work load, they seldom give due attention to teachers’ identities. My research raises questions about the political rationalities that have informed policies on a new conception of the ideal teacher as assessor and how these political rationalities have intersected with the individual lives and identities of teachers. This study investigates at a micro-level, the workings of how teachers govern themselves in their work and in general as human beings. The constitution of teacher identity through discourses and discursive practices of the assessment reform is central to the argument of this thesis which is guided by the following critical question: Within the historical context of the current wave of curriculum reform in South Africa, how is teacher identity constituted in the discourses and practices of assessment reform? Data was obtained from ten teacher participants through interviews, classroom observations and document evidence. Using the biographical / life history approach and teachers’ narratives of self, I explore patterns by which experiential and emotional contexts, feelings, images and memories are organized to form the teachers’ identity. My analytical strategy draws from the work of Foucault (1954-1984), Giddens (1991), Wenger (1998), Bourdieu (1977), Frankl (1984), Laclau and Mouffe (1985), Maslow (1943) as well as other scholars.