Date of Award


Degree Type


Degree Name

Master of Arts



First Advisor

E. Derek Taylor, Ph.D.

Second Advisor

David Magill, Ph.D.

Third Advisor

Sean Ruday, Ph.D


The textbooks physical presence, though, is marginal compared to their theoretical presence, as textbooks can drive almost every decision a teacher makes when preparing for a day, a week, a month, the year. For example, in my 11th-grade English classes at Grafton High School in York County, Virginia, there are two levels of understanding. One is that I am teaching American literature, its development, importance, people, and purpose; the other is that everything I teach will, in some way, better prepare my students for their SOL test at the end of the year. The textbook has been laid out to accommodate these dual interests, and the ancillary materials like workbooks, test materials, vocabulary guides, and supplementary videos all follow suit. And therein lies a larger point—textbooks serve a distinct purpose, but it’s not necessarily to provide the best, most well-rounded, most useful education to the students using them. Rather, their purpose is to help students pass the state Standards of Learning (SOL) test, and the materials are calibrated to that end. The test is the focus; the SOL is the goal. And the textbooks are produced as much for the Virginia Board of Education, who decides the SOL standards, as for the students who will spend ten months using them. This arrangement impacts a student’s education in multiple ways, few of them for the better.



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