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Standards Deviation: How Schools Misunderstand Education Policy
by James P. Spillane
Harvard University Press, 2004
Paper: 978-0-674-02109-9 | eISBN: 978-0-674-04392-3 | Cloth: 978-0-674-01323-0
Library of Congress Classification LC89.S54 2004
Dewey Decimal Classification 379.73


What happens to federal and state policies as they move from legislative chambers to individual districts, schools, and, ultimately, classrooms? Although policy implementation is generally seen as an administrative problem, James Spillane reminds us that it is also a psychological problem.

After intensively studying several school districts' responses to new statewide science and math teaching policies in the early 1990s, Spillane argues that administrators and teachers are inclined to assimilate new policies into current practices. As new programs are communicated through administrative levels, the understanding of them becomes increasingly distorted, no matter how sincerely the new ideas are endorsed. Such patterns of well-intentioned misunderstanding highlight the need for systematic training and continuing support for the local administrators and teachers who are entrusted with carrying out large-scale educational change, classroom by classroom.

Table of Contents:


1. Making Education Policy Here, There, and Everywhere
2. Doing Standards: Content and Context
3. Interactive Policymaking
4. Making Policy, Making Sense
5. Resources for Sense-Making
6. The Schoolteacher and Interactive Policymaking
7. Policy in Practice
8. Implementation Reconsidered

Appendix: Research Methods

Policy implementation is like the telephone game. . . . the player at the start of the line tells a story to the next person in line, who then relays the story to the third person in line. . . . by the time the story is retold by the final player, it is very different from the original.
--chapter 1
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