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Introduction to Education Policy

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Aurora Moore

on 6 March 2014

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Transcript of Introduction to Education Policy

January 9th, 2014
Introduction to Education Policy
and Frames of Analysis

Today's Essential Questions
What is policy? What does education policy do? Who makes it?
What are some ways of thinking about analysis? How do market and polis perspectives differ? How do these perspectives inform conversations about ed. policy in the case of teacher pay?
How does this course approach policy analysis?
Think, pair-share
When you think about education policy, what immediately comes to mind?

What is your connection to whatever came to mind?

Any paradoxes?
"Any governing principle, plan or course of action." (Webster's abridged)
"A definite course or method of action selected among alternatives and in light of given conditions to guide and determine present and future decisions." (Webster's Collegiate)
"A principle or protocol to guide decisions and achieve rational outcomes." (Wikipedia)
Public Policy
An agreement decided by a public
that guides the course of future actions by that body and those governed by it
Formal legislation
Codified procedures, practices, rules
Policy requires...
A problem
A theory of change
A solution?
Are all problems policy problems? What (should be) outside policy's reach?
"...all policy is an attempt to change behavior" (Stone)

"The government is better at moving money than changing behavior" (Wildavsky)
Curriculum and
Teachers and
Students and Assessment
Policy penetrates the classroom
Who makes and influences education policy?
All three branches of government
And "non system" actors...
philanthropic orgs
advocacy orgs
"Paradoxes are nothing but trouble..." (Stone)
Policy Paradox
"...bureaucratic sectors of policy become at once the strongest stokers and the most determined dampers of change.”

"The reforms of the past lay like booby

40-50% of funding (varies)
Manage schools
Hire personnel
Bargain collectively
Develop programs
Assign students
40-60% of funding (varies)
Allocate funds
Establish governance and management
Set standards
Prepare and certify personnel
~10% of funding (increase)
Set vision
Research and data
Equal protection/Civil rights
Special Programs for under-served
What's wrong with following a procedure? Doesn't analysis demand simplification
1. Identify objectives
2. Identify alternative courses of action for reaching objectives
3. Predict possible consequences

4. Evaluate possible consequences
5. Select the alternatives that maximize objectives
Stone aims to build a model of analysis that:
sees politics as valuable to creative process
recognizes analytic tools, problem definitions and instruments as political aims
puts community at the center
How do the market and polis perspectives each respond to the question of teacher (merit) pay?
Some Current Paradoxes
waivers- backtracking or necessary mid-course
redefinition of goals and solutions
technology- personalization/standardization
charters- necessary or mistake?
Analysis as...
Instructor: Dr. Aurora Moore
Teaching Assistant: Li Sha
Education Policy Analysis
Winter Quarter, 2014

Consider: community, altruism, public interest, commons problems, influence, cooperation, loyalty, groups, information, passion, power
Big data- good for students and families or bad?
At the federal, state & local levels
What is
What does public policy do?
Allocates resources
Establishes rights
Resolves disputes
Sets standards
What does education policy do?
Education Policy
What is policy?


Rationality Project Polis
Market Political community
Self interest Group interest
Simple trades Dependencies & loyalties

Rational choice Metaphor and analogy

Stepwise process Struggle for ideas
Model of...
In this course...
Government intervention
Stop polluting!
More pay
A clean river
An excellent education for
High student achievement
Wildavsky (1978), p. 4
Common Core Standards
Equity and access (e.g., ELs)
& Assessments
PARCC/Smarter Balanced
Teacher Evaluation
Linked Learning
Special Education
Big data and data sharing (e.g., inBloom)
Expansion of charters
Roles in the polis

Some current education policy issues:
Access and rights:

Standards and priorities



Responsibilities and Accountability
Who gets an education?

Of what kind and quality?

Who pays for education? With what money
How is it distributed?

Who makes decisions and by what authority
and process

Who must do what for whom and under what
inducements or penalties?
"What is analysis? Why do you ask?" - Wildavksy
A struggle over ideas...

"trying to get others to see a situation as one thing rather than another." (Stone)

January 16, 2014
Ideas and Institutions
3 Pillars of Institutions:
cause/effect relationships
intellectual paradigms
As context
As content
Public sentiments
Elite assumptions that
constrain range of USEFUL programs
Public assumptions that
constrain range of LEGITIMATE
Types of Ideas and their Impact on Policy
Criteria for making it onto the policy agenda (primeval soup)
Political- Will it fly?
Supporters and detractors
Past winners and losers
Value acceptability
Intellectual- Is it a good idea?
Empirical support
Theoretical rationale
Conceptual development
Technical- Will it work?
Elite prescriptions that
provide course of action
Context and Path Dependence
Standards-based reform takes hold
E.g., Kentucky, Tennessee, Wisconsin
No Child Left Behind Act
Institutionalizes accountability
American Recovery and Reinvestment Act
School Improvement Grants/Race to the Top/Investing in Innovation (I3)
"Changes in patterns of interaction affect ideas"
- Campbell, 2004
Testing in grades
Grade-level standards
Some Rules for Constructing Policy Ideas
Basic Criteria for Rising to the Top
Mark Moore, 1994
1. Diagnose what is currently there
Intellectual and contextual properties
2. Respect existing ideas and policies
Utility and history of existing ideas. Assume intelligence.
3. Construct a better idea
Dissect strengths and limitations of new idea based on diagnosis
4. Simplify the idea (framing)
Idea must be packaged in such a way that it can dislodge old ideas/policies

(not too exotic?)
Sean Reardon, 2013, ASCD
Who are policy actors and entrepreneurs?
How does an issue become a policy problem that gets public attention?
What role do ideas, interests and conversations play in the process?
How do some ideas rise to the top of the primeval soup?
How do ideas shape policy?
Public sentiment
Group Activity
Symbols and concepts
that promote legitimacy
John Campbell, 2004, Institutional Change and Globalization (p. 94)
"In the polis, change occurs through the interaction of mutually defining ideas and alliances...ideas are the stuff of politics." (Stone, p. 34)
1) Intrinsic value of the idea
a. Is there enough research evidence?
b. Is the idea intellectually attractive?
c. What is the technical feasibility of the idea?
d. What is the cost related to the idea?
2) Context of the idea
a. What is the prevailing ideology?
b. Is there a policy window for this idea?
c. What groups need to be involved?
3) Different stages of promoting the idea
a. How to create the awareness of the idea?
b. What is the best time of action?
W. Richard Scott, Institutions and Organizations, 2001
Essential questions:
What idea was the PISA video trying to convey? To counter?
How effective was the video in conveying it?
Who is the audience for this video? How might they respnd?
Kingdon, 1984
What sort of ideas motivate these type of policies? Public ideas? Self-interested ones?

How is the problem at hand defined, and what does the proposed solution aim to do about it? Are there alternative definitions/solutions that were bypassed? If so, why?

What technical and intellectual knowledge supports the policy at hand?
OR, What knowledge and technical understanding would you want to have to analyze the policy on grounds of intellectual merit.

Who are the people/players in conversation about these ideas? Who needs to be included?
Think individually, then discuss:
Implications for Analysis
Assessment of policy feasibility and outcome involves content and context, plus technical and intellectual dimensions

Problems have the same status as solutions--constructions

Perspectives matter- map and locate

Policy is path dependent- history matters

Locate political voice and supports

Attend to power of public idea, understand its roots and identify alternative formulations
Deborah Stone, 2011
Policy Actors
January 23, 2014
"entitlement theory of holdings;"
equal access to acquisition of goods;
redistribution violates liberty
Robert Nozick
Liberal Egalitarianism
"veil of ignorance";
equal rights to goods;
focus on benefits to all
John Rawls
Plan for the day:
1. Short lecture
2. Structured dscussion Rounds
3. Debrief/close





Goals in the Polis
As policy analysts and makers you have tremendous choice in:
Defining the goal
Identifying the best processes for realizing the goal
Choosing metrics and measuring progress
Setting boundaries around the goal.
You will have to think through these issues fully to arrive at the best choie.
Martha Nussbaum
"capabilities" approach
equal rights to opportunities
Procedural theories/approaches:
- Focus on fair process, regardless of outcome
Equality and Theories of Justice
Who gets what by what proces?
Negative (free from coercion) vs. positive (ability to realize goals)
Individual vs. group
What kind of harms should the government prevent?
How are opportunity costs defined?
Instrumental vs. intrinsic values
Comparative, context-specific
Psychological vs. actual
Balancing risks and harms as political, moral challenge
Material vs. symbolic
Intrinsic vs. instrumental
How much risk?
Henry Levin on Vouchers:
(beyond outcomes)
1. Freedom of choice
2. Productive efficiency
3. Equity
4. Social cohesion
Jencks on Ms. Higgins Dilemma:
1. Democratic equality
2. Moralistic justice
3. Weak humane justice
4. Strong humane justice
5. Utilitarianism

To consider: is it a beginning or ending?
As policy analysts and makers you will have to understand and distinguish the philosophical values underlying the surface polemics in order to define and broker compromise.
Some Trade-offs






To effectively make or change policy your analytic frame must consider how the various stakes are framed by different "stakeholders." To do so, you will need to lift these underlying tensions to the top of the conversation. To effectively change the conversation you will need to dispel any myths associated with the tensions in ways that address diverse concerns and constituencies.
(when are they?)
Amartya Sen
January 30, 2014
First: Think about audience and aim. For the assignment, think high-level policy actor who values reasoned, data-driven analysis. Aim is specific to the policy and what you want to accomplish giving your understanding of the evidence/issue.

1. Establish the context
relevant history of the issue--where did it get its start? How did it evolve? What's the current situation?
setting- national/state/local? where is it located or being implemented? Plans for scale?
2. Describe the policy
basic idea of the policy- how is it expressed as a program? How do supporters use symbols or metaphor to frame it?
3. Describe and analyze the underlying goals or values behind the policy
common trade-offs - how are tensions between commonly-held values constructed and portrayed? How are trade-offs different for different groups? How could trade-offs be diminshed (think polis perspective)?
4. Analyze the problem of the problem
identify the problem as it is represented by the policy
examine social constructions of beneficiaries/targets
alternative ways to frame the problem
use evidence to argue for a particular understanding of the problem
5. Describe/analyze the solution (the specific tool of the policy) in light of 1-4
think political/technical/intellectual
what does the solution assume about target populations?
Representation of the problem as a conceptual task:

The Problem of the Problem
Narrative stories (e.g., decline)
Synecdoche (e.g., "rubber room")
Metaphors (e.g., Maslow's)
Normative aspects
Categories and boundaries
Substantive vs. statistical
As rationale:
- complex systems
- insitutional
- historical (patterns)
Simple story mobilizes
Causal arguments:
- challenge or protect status quo
- assign blame and responsibility
- legitimize "fixers"
As a strategy, causal stories link problem to possibilities of human control.
(act of nature vs. agency; intetional consequences vs. unintended; low probability of success as calculated risk; too complicated for anything but massive social movement)
Linked problem frame mobilizes
Depend on causal arguments
Rational vs. polis
Power of ambiguity
Fulton Opens
Leveling w/ multiage homeroom
split grades
split grades-
2/3, 4/5
All single grades
Principal 1
Developmental Education
Major change
in teaching staff (T)
Sup. B
Sup. C
Sup. D
Provide developmental, thematic instruction, whole language conceptual math, benchmarks, portfolios
Teach standards with "DAP"
Integrated Thematic
Houghton-Mifflin (K-1, 2-3, 4-5)
Develop local standards/
assessment framework
Align to state
standards, "Job 1"
Implement with
Curriculum adjustment
Common Core
Choice-based enrollment
Neighborhood based enrollment
Five year plan finished
Action Teams
Grade Level Study Teams
Reading First
The Myth of School Improvement
Outlining an Effective Analysis
The Social Construction of Target Populations
How are benefits and burdens distributed and why?
First to Worst
on non-cognitive skills

What is low and inequitable achievement a problem of?
In Your Issue Groups
Outline your policy issue:

10 minutes to think/outline quietly
2 minutes each to discuss

In policy this looks like:

Core Waiver example
February 6, 2014
Case of the Common Core
Round 1- 30 min
Round 2- 45 min
Policy Design
Incentives (punishments)
Systems changing

How do policy tools operate? What are the embedded assumptions?
Groupwork Round 1
What are the goals of the CCSS? How might you frame those goals differently as a strong supporter? As a strong opponent?
How do the CCSS operate as a policy solution? Theory of change?
How do the standards operate as embedded within NCLB and the flexibility waiver?
What are the embedded assumptions of that theory? What does it assume about the various target populations? What does it assume about compliance?
To what extent do the new policies (CCSS and NCLB waiver) mitigate the perverse incentives problem described by James Ryan?
Carol Weiss: Theory-based Evaluation
Unpack assumptions
Unpack micro-assumptions
Review literature/evidence to support/refute assumptions and micro-assumptions (easier if you build categories such as "physical space" or "Fiscal resources")
Dig for implicit (unspoken) theories of change-- while challenging, these typically affect implementation and outcomes.
Track all possible TOAs
Use this information to identify appropriate outcome metrics (interim, long-term) & conditions for effective implementation and sustainability
Unpacking the Theory of Change
New organizations & organizations new to the process– intermediaries, collaboratives, “hybrids”
Non-system actors– community coalitions, advocacy organizations
Societal sector as unit of analysis
Learning about how public systems learn

Beyond misery research…

clear and consistent goals
commitment of agency leadership
sound theory of causal relationships
Clear and definitive indicators/standards
sufficient jurisdiction over target groups, etc.

What is “effective” implementation?
Does “outcome” = “impact”
Timeline issues- when appropriate to assess?
Outcomes in context– how do they look from perspective of broader system?
What’s the relevant outcome to assess? Surface changes v. first principles


Multi-layered system- 5 system levels possibly relevant
Endogenity of policy making- policy as building block not road map for action
Policy design x Agency design x institutional setting
-> site specific response

Implementation site

Pressman & Wildavsky—alarmed discovery
Weatherley & Lipsky- change a problem of the smallest unit
RAND Change Agent Study—can’t mandate what matters
“Mrs. Oublier”—can only do what is understood
Sense making studies– Coburn, Spillane

Implementation research history… “misery research”

This language is not neutral– it conveys the values of the policy analyst who uses it; most claim loyalty to the “public interest”

Policy analysts use the language, methods and ideas of economics, political science, sociology, social psychology but….

Lynn, 1999; 417

“Policy analysis is contextualized craft, fueled by intuition and argument and ethical promptings, clearly associated with the world of political action, both normative and prescriptive, often identified with interests otherwise underrepresented at the table.”

Systems analysis– Program Planning and Budgeting tools– to articulate relationship between values and program features [Schultze 1968; Stokey and Zeckhauser]
The ‘art’ of policy analysis– a bit of bravado [Rivlin]– prescriptions for action [Wildavsky]
“Research broker” [Heclo; Meltzner; Sundquist 1978]– a new breed of reformers—institutional resource for thinking about problems; stimulate PMs with uncomfortable Qs and fresh ideas
Knowledge-to-action [Feldman]—instrumental view of policy analysis

Evolving conceptions of policy analysis

Path dependence

Causal Links

Unanticipated, unrelated events

Solutions: Not just what but when…

Example Event Histories

Things must be made to happen; policy is not self-winding– implementation involves bargaining
Individuals implement policy, not organizations
Individuals and their activities are embedded in multiple, dynamic, variable contexts that are shaped by factors beyond the reach of policy

Management approach: Implementation something to be managed

Political Model: Implementation is getting something done

Implementation models:

Context dependent- few slam-bam effects
Negotiation- political, reciprocal & subject to reformulation
Interplay of change & continuity, learning & relearning [v. linear, staged process/ pathway model]
Macro/micro differences

The process

Implementers’ incentives and identities matter
Implementers’ response reflects their understanding and knowledge– a process of sense making
Normative considerations often trump technical elements

The actors

Problem of the problem
Problem more than technical– involves normative assumptions
Problems create new problems

The policy problem

In addition to technical skills and rigor, policy analysts require imagination, judgment, interpretive skills [Heineman, Majone]
Policy analysis is an “interpretative discipline” [Archibald]
“Policy analysis is more art than science…it draws on intuition as much as method” [Bardach]

Emergence of the “craft” perspective

Policy “science” overemphasizes instrumental rationality to the neglect of rights, communitarian and ecological goals [Tribe]
Traditional PA “blind” to conflicts etc. that need to be understood to guide search for solutions [Nelson]
“Metaphysical madness” of Pas aiming to supplant politicians and statesmen [Banfield]
PMaking as“Muddling through”– policy researchers need to understand policy practice & focus on substantive issues with which PMs deal [Lindblom, Schon, Rein]

Vocal critics of instrumental view

* Lynn 1999

Emergence of the modern bureaucratic state in the 1960s and increasing role of “administrative discretion” in the federal executive branch [roots in the 1930s]
From public law to public policy making– conceptions that policy makers had intellectual and analytical needs– from “execution” to “invention”
“speaking truth to power”– professionally trained analysts who were bilingual in languages of science and policy “untainted” by material interest in actual policies
Jousts between policy analysts trained as political scientists & those trained as economists heated from the beginning

Policy analysis was conceived in controversy…*

ED 221 A
February 12, 2007


Lynn, 1993:24

“…the connection between science and policy is nothing less than the connection between science and society itself”

Policy analysts work in the real world…

Design, scale

February 20, 2014
Roles in the Polis
February 27, 2014

Evidence, Argumentation and Persuasion
Craft / the 8-fold path
March 6, 2014
"Policy analysis can neither
be performed competently nor used properly without appreciation of its craft aspects." - Majone
1. Define the Problem
2. Assemble Some Evidence
3. Construct the Alternatives
4. Select the Criteria
5. Project the Outcomes
6. Confront the Trade-offs
7. Decide
8. Tell Your Story
How can policy analysis be justified once the claim to certainty of conclusion has been abandoned?
*Evidence is not the same as data or information- it is part of the argument, constructed through identifying professional consensus




Reliability, reproducibility, credibility

Relevance, sufficiency, goodness of fit, robustness
Reliability, admissibility, strength

Cogency, persuasiveness, clarity

Plausibility, feasibility, acceptability
Analytic component
Criteria of Adequacy
Evidence and Argumentation
Eugene Bardach's 8-fold path
What are the available tools?
What are their limitations?
What are the requirements of the audience?
Quality, Responsibility, Style
The craft paradigm, in conrtrast, provides categories that are applicable to any type
and style of analysis
advocacy mode
Types/styles of analysis
indicators are the product of definition and convention- must interpreted in relation to specific context
Pitfalls related to evidence and arguments
Tendency to use math to hide simplistic arguments.Be wary of over stylized data
Taking over existing information for use in an analytic argument-- hard to know if sufficient strength and fit
Acceptable degree of approximation or precision acquires meaning only in the contexof use of evidence-- standard of adequacy and quality
Implausible solutions (you must be kidding)
Improbable theories of action-world doesn't
work that way
Fallacious reasoning (incorrect chain of
logic; linearitis)
Assessing feasibility constraints--are they
real? Imposed? Are they understood/
Pitfalls related to ethics
What ought I do?
Principles vs. rules
What was the agreement?
Utilitarian approach
Deontological approach
General Principles- ASA
Professional competence
Professional and scientific responsibility
Respect for people's rights, dignity and diversity
Social responsibility
Scientific knowledge tentative; professional competence includes craft knowledge= humility?
"politics transforms the context of moral judgment" - Pring
Pitfalls and Principles of Ethics
relationship of analyst to poliician, researcher to subject
IRB doesn't account for
how democratic you can
be or how much you try to advance deep structural solutions
1) Relevant (internal logical relationship between evidence and claim)
2) Sufficient (different types of evidence to triangulate)
3) Representative (external relationship between sample and population)

1) Who is the author? (credibility, legitimacy)
2) How recent is the source?
3) What is the purpose of the author? (neutral vs. advocacy, funding agency)
4) What is the source?
a. Universities
b. Credible media outlet
c. Government program or department
d. Non-governmental organizations
e. Wikipedia (collaboratively developed by users)

1) Who is the audience?
a. General public: newspaper
b. Professional and academic community: peer-reviewed articles
c. Policymakers: research briefs
Additional criteria for evaluating data sources
Nested systems issues
Network issues
Hierarchy issues
Resource issues
Organizational routines

Scale Criteria- Beyond #s
- Sustainability

How do you Design for Optimal Learning?
e.g., CCSS
Courts: dynamic vs. constrained
Philanthropists: enhancing/harming democracy
Advocacy/organizing: momentum, participation

as discourse? as force?
evaluation of ongoing programs
a new proposal
different perspective on an old problem
"We are continuously faced with brilliant opportunities disguised as insoluable problems."- John W. Gardner
Tips for your papers
Statements made by you for which you have no claim to expertise must be backed by evidence! Your opinion counts because you have curated the evidence.
Avoid the passive voice! This means you have to understand who the players are. Give them agency.
Edit for the number of words it takes you to make your point
Cite in APA sytle

Briefing on Briefings (see Coursework)
Full transcript