Graduation Year


Document Type




Degree Granting Department

Childhood Education and Literacy Studies

Major Professor

Danielle V. Dennis, Ph.D.

Co-Major Professor

Jenifer J. Schneider, Ph.D

Committee Member

James R. King, Ed.D.

Committee Member

J. Edwin Benton, Ph.D.


literacy, reading, adolescent, policy, assessment


In this qualitative case study, I constructed interpretations of the meanings conveyed by state-level discourse communities as they were manifested in the primary and secondary speech genres of Florida’s adolescent literacy policy. Meanings (or values, beliefs and feelings) are highly tacit understandings embedded in the language, actions and objects of policy (Yanow, 2000), and are conveyed through informal and formal speech (Bakhtin, 1986). Results revealed (a) state policy meanings convey multiple versions of literacy with a heavy focus on receptive aspects of literate practice; (b) a typology of students and their fit within the institutional system; and (c) an emphasis on systems-based policy solutions. The combined effect of these results yielded two key dynamics (distance and resistance) that may signal challenges for Florida’s adolescent literacy reform efforts.

Based on my interpretation of these meanings, I used complexity thinking (Davis & Sumara, 2006) to propose recommendations for reconfiguring Florida’s approach to adolescent literacy reform at both the macro and the micro levels. In particular, Florida should move away from systems-based policy solutions and toward people-based policy solutions that enable bottom-up emergence, or system-wide learning.