The Technical Dimensions of Education Policy Making and Evaluation
Cooper, Fusarelli, and Randall (2004) contend that policy makers must make it possible for the implementers to fulfill the policy. This is the technical dimension of the policy making and evaluation process. Sometimes a policy will leave out the tools for implementation. This makes it hard for the policy to survive the implementation process. More so, spillover may occur. Spillover is when the policy will cause more negative issues within the scope of the policy even though the policy is reaching its goals and is being fulfilled. A policy of reduced class size may have a spill over of an institution needing more staff to meet the policy, thus increasing the budget. Spillover issues should be looked at carefully during any educational policy implementation and evaluation. The spillovers could seriously hurt one or more of the stakeholders both educationally and financially.
Furlong and Oancea (2005) look at the technical dimension at a different angle. They are concerned at the technical dimensions of practice, “the ‘capacity to make’, in Aristotelian terms; the other focuses on the ‘capacity to act’ usually equated to practical wisdom.” They warn that there are at least two senses in which research into educational policy should follow. The first should be evaluated in terms of the contribution to practice and the other should be evaluated in terms of the practitioners. The policy makers should look at the facts, evidence, and experiments and then, the policy makers should look at how these facts relate to real world problems they will face when the policy is implemented. This is a major concern if the policy changes or interferes with curriculum, instruction, or student achievement.
In summary, the four dimensions, the normative, the constituentive, the technical, and the structural are essential to the educational policy making and evaluation process. Each component is separate but has influences which can change the outcome of the entire project. Every stakeholder needs to be considered and the decision to whom will win out with the new policy and who will lose something has to be decided. Policies that do not adhere to this type of structure may create huge barriers in implementation and meeting the final goals. After the first evaluation process, the four dimension need to be evaluated separately to ensure that all bases are covered and all contingencies are explored.
Educational Policy Making and the Test Taking Culture of America
No matter how hard a policy maker tries to make all the stakeholders in a district, state, or nation happy with their decisions, there is always one group or individual that will not be happy or feel satisfied with the decisions made by that policy maker. The policy maker has to balance their own personal values with the pressures that are placed by these groups or individuals that may feel that the policy affects them negatively. The police maker must adhere to the law but at the same time, not give in to the pressure that goes against the law even if that policy maker has strong beliefs personally that might be aligned with the group that is applying pressure.
One of the most hotly debated topics today among teachers and parents is the test culture that has evolved from recent educational policy. Strauss (2006), a reporter of the Washington Post, states that kids are tested and labeled as soon as they are in kindergarten. Some of the kids have never tested before and emotionally could not handle it. Kids who were used to testing were labeled as talented. The ethics of the policy makers must look beyond the piece of paper that their policy is printed on and look at how that policy is going to affect society as a whole. The test culture nation is shaping a future generation and the ethical stance of the policy maker should not be swayed if social engineering is the intended purpose. If not, then the policy should be scrutinized for outcomes that might be hurtful to one group or another.
No matter what the topic, ethical ramifications of policies that do not have a balance of pressure versus ethics can bring out groups with more power and the power to levy more pressure. For example, the ban of prayer in school has brought out a multitude of parents and religious groups that would not be involved in the policy before it was made. These groups, now united against the policy and the makers, have a single issue in which to form and grow more power. One policy that is not ethically treated will be scrutinized and will probably not work. The cost of the policy can rise dramatically as court cases are decided on the legitimacy of the policy as it relates to certain groups and individuals.
Strauss, V. (2006). The rise of the testing culture: As exam takers get younger, some say value is overblown. The Washington Post, Oct 10, 2006. Retrieved on August 11, 2009 from http://www.washingtonpost.com/
What Role Should Parents and Community Members Play in Education Policy Development
De Carvalho (2001) contends that each person, the teacher and the parent, both share roles in not only the education but the educational policies in public schools. According to this researcher, the acquisition of credentials, the social outcomes of education, and the larger economic, political, social, and cultural life are apart of duties that are thrust upon these roles. She argues that most people think that educational policy and the development of that policy should be in the hands of the school administrators, but to the contrary, educational policy does not only affect the private lives of families but articulates those lives in social reproduction.
Epstein and Connors (1992) stated that there are six major types of involvement for partnership programs that focus on education and educational policy development. These types are; involvement in decision making, governance, involvement in home learning, involvement in school, community collaborations, and advocacy. Potential barriers to this type of partnership development was listed as; the development of written policy, leadership and structure to implement the policy, a budget to support the policy, and an evaluation process to make sure the policy is meeting its goals.
De Carvalho, M. (2001). Rethinking Family-School Relationships: A Critique of Parental Involvement in Schooling. Lawrence Erlbaum Associates Publications. NJ. Retrieved on July 9, 2009 from googlebookscom
Epstein, J., & Conners, L. (1992). School and family partnerships. National Association of Secondary School Principals Retrieved on July 9, 2009 from ERIC database.
From the One Room School House to NCLB: Policy Changes, Barriers
The educational policies today do have more mechanisms that encourage and support implementation than in years past. Certain issues regarding race and the implementation of the policies have come together. For example, in 1850 the educational policy regarding Native Americans was to educate them into white American society. The government, in many of its broken treaties would promise a schoolhouse and a teacher for student’s six to sixteen. There was a group called The Friends who wanted the natives to be assimilated into the regular white schools. The government system was voluntary while the Friends system was comprehensive and compulsory. (Hamley, n.d.)
Today, school systems, counties, and states are struggling with strategies to overcome barriers that hinder greater fidelity. Recently, not only does the administrator have to deal with local issues, they also have to tackle the national education policies which radically changes the way the state policies (in most states) are implemented. This creates a larger burden not only for the state level policy makers but also for the teachers who implement the policies at both levels. States are scrambling to meet the policy of NCLB so they will not loose their federal funding by 2014 (Mohammed, Pisapia, and Walker, (2009).
Cooper, Fusarelli, and Walker (2004) cite Thelen and Steinmo (1992) by stating that both the goals and strategies that political agents pursue ‘are shaped by the institutional context. Whether is a educational policy for native American students or NCLB, there is a link between the institution and population the policy effects and the policy makers themselves. Theses authors present tokenism as a strategy to decrease barriers and they state that it is common to use tokenism when those responsible for implementing policy disagree with the policy itself.
Hamley, J. (n.d.) Cultural Genocide in the Classroom: A History of the FederalBoarding School Movement in American Indian Education, 1875-1920. Unpublished dissertation. Retrieved from The Clarke Historical Library Online.
Mohammed, S., Pisapia, J., & Walker, D. (2009) Optimizing state policy implementation: The case of scientific based research components of the NCLB act. Current Issues in Education, 11(8). Retrieved on July 8, 2009 fromhttp://cie.asu.edu/volume11/number8/
Cooper, B., Fusarelli, L., & Randall, E. (2004) Better Policies, BetterSchools: Theories and Applications. Pearson Publications. Retrieved on July 6, 2009 from electronic text book.
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