Date of Award

Spring 2022

Document Type

Open Access Dissertation


Educational Studies

First Advisor

Kara D. Brown


Using the discourse historical approach (DHA), this thesis examined how actors from diverse educational settings (federal, state, and districts) discursively constructed the identity of the English learners (ELs) during the appropriation of new educational policy (i.e., ESSA of 2015). This study intended to understand how both “human” and “non-human” educational actors (i.e., the texts of the educational policy and the key actors responsible for the appropriation of the ESSA of 2015) construct and position the identity of ELs in relations of power and knowledge and how the macro-policy discourse shapes how policies are interpreted at the meso- and micro-level. The (mis)representation emerged as the overarching constructing strategy used in both data sets to achieve the discursive construction of ELs’ identities. Whereas the public and the private texts employed the same discursive strategies, they used them to construct a divergent representation of ELs’ identity, which I defined as (mis)representation through omission (public texts) and powerless (mis)representation (private texts). Moreover, the data showed that the (dis)connect between the two discourses negatively impacts the ELs’ identity and educational opportunities.