Troubling the master narrative of “grit”: Counterstories of Black and Latinx Students with dis/abilities during an era of “high-stakes” testing

Adai Tefera, David Hernández Saca, Ashlee Lester


In this study we trouble the notion of “grit” and “high-stakes” testing by focusing on the experiences and perspectives of Black and Latinx students labeled with dis/abilities with the California High School Exit Exam (CAHSEE). Through interviews, focus groups, and classroom observations with 15 Black and Latinx students labeled with dis/abilities, we utilize the power of student voice and counterstories to problematize the master narrative of a “grit”/no “grit” binary in education policy discourse. This binary has contributed to an educational culture that reinforces victim blaming, reifies inequities for Black and Latinx students with dis/abilities, and undermines students’ emotional wellbeing. Harnessing the power of the students’ experiences and perspectives, we conclude with recommendations for policy and practice.


high-stakes testing; grit, students of color with disabilities; urban schooling, Disability Studies in Education

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Copyright (c) 2019 Adai Tefera, David Hernández Saca, Ashlee Lester


Contact EPAA//AAPE at Mary Lou Fulton Teachers College