Year

2001

Degree Name

Doctor of Education

Department

University of Wollongong - Faculty of Education

Abstract

This study begins as an investigation into the role of goal consensus and teacher endorsement in the implementation of education policy. The policy chosen as the focus of the study is a popular, firmly established, Commonwealth policy, administered by a State bureaucracy, which provides broad, ambiguous goals - The Equity Element of the National Equity Program for Schools.

The study was conducted within one discrete administrative education region. With input from teachers (by a questionnaire), principals and the government officers w h o oversee the implementation of the policy (by interview), information regarding school and workplace demographics, school climate and goal related variables is obtained. Information provided by official government records contributes to the investigation.

The resulting analysis presents an insight into the implementation of education policy at the point of delivery. In particular, the study reveals a complex process of personal perceptions at work, on the part of the implementors. In contrast to established models of policy implementation at delivery point, this study establishes the critical role played by subjectivity on the part of teachers, principals and others acting within this policy space. The study also reveals a number of intervening variables, some rigid, some malleable, which appear to either facilitate or impede the successful implementation of this policy.

The lack of a highly significant correlation of the variables related to school climate with the goal related variables of the policy was unexpected and raises questions regarding the generalisability of some aspects of the accepted literature. In contrast, the study supports the literature in regard to the importance of the principal's role in policy implementation within schools. It sheds light on the impact of official reviews on a policy such as this and focuses attention on the need to evaluate the achievement of the policy goals in relation to the students specifically targetted.

As an independent review of a policy with a previously rarely questioned record of 'success', this study makes an original contribution to education policy research by identifying the reasons and factors that have allowed a twenty year old and popular education policy to survive in the absence of a clear understanding of its goals by implementors, unaided in their actions by indicators of success, which the makers of this policy failed to both define and provide.

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