A comprehensive examination of professional development practices in two Minnesota school districts was conducted to identify the specific responses of stakeholders to policy stipulations. Through this multi-method case study of state statutes, a significant level of correlation between policy and practice was identified. However, it might not be said that compliance has occurred purposefully. Study findings revealed overt efforts to adopt practices that support collaboration, adult learning, and improved practices in teaching. These efforts fortunately produced a reasonable level of compliance with policy. Several explicit program outcomes specified by policy on the other hand, were not necessarily being targeted as policy-makers may have envisioned.
While the degree of alignment between practice and policy across the districts was a significant focus, numerous factors influencing policy implementation were documented in order to account for the actual practices within professional development programs, as well as the purpose behind those practices. The investigation importantly revealed contextual factors associated with unique communities of practice and the districts' distributed leadership models.
Beyond an examination of activities and work of school district staff relevant to specific policy goals, this study employed a relatively unique "policy-as-the-case" methodology. By utilizing the relevant policy dimensions of leadership, process, and outcomes, the target policies were expressed as their own metric for further examination. This design provides a model adaptable to inquiry into a broad range of policies within the social sciences.
University of Minnesota Ph.D. dissertation. June 2011. Major: Educational Policy and Administration. Advisor: Jennifer York-Barr. 1 computer file (PDF); viii, 195 pages, appendices A-E.
Alger, Scott Edward.
Professional development programs as sources of policy implementation: what does Minnesota staff development policy look like in action?.
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