Posted: June 1st, 2015

an introduction to the field of educational politics with special emphasis on theoretical and conceptual analysis of the political behavior of education’s stakeholders and the policy performance of educational systems

This course provides an introduction to the field of educational politics with special emphasis on theoretical and conceptual analysis of the political behavior of education’s stakeholders and the policy performance of educational systems.
Course Rationale

Delivery Method

On completion of this course, each student should be able to:

•    Demonstrate an understanding of the nature of policymaking and the education policy system
•    Apply conceptual frameworks for looking at educational policy research
•    Apply conceptual and political frameworks and theories to evaluate policy issues in a work setting or institutional environment
•    Develop and critique policy proposals with an understanding of the education system and the nature of policy problems
•    Critique policies and their implementation
•    Examine social and educational thought about the goals, purposes, and methods of schooling to federal, state, and local policy initiatives, and explore how politics, social conditions, educational philosophies, and research frame these initiatives
Instructional Materials and References
Text: Heck, R. H. (2004). Studying Educational and Social Policy: Theoretical Concepts and Research, Methods. Mahwah, New Jersey: Lawrence Erlbaum Associates, Inc.

Additional Reading: Assigned weekly from selected books, journals and publications. Will be listed in the online classroom.

Each week, you will be responsible for composing an original response to 1 discussion question posted in the online classroom and making substantive comments on at least 2 of your classmates postings for the week . Your original responses should be no less than 100 words in length, with properly cited sources using APA format. The grading rubric is available online.
This is a study intensive course and each student is expected to participate by completing all reading and written assignments on time as well as actively engage in online discussions.
Please try to post your initial thought provoking response (Main Post, 3 points) to the instructor’s question/s or prompts by Wednesday of the week and respond to at least two of your classmate’s postings (1 point each) by Saturday at 12:00 noon of each week.
Remember, responses that are thoughtful, insightful and supported by experiences, examples or sources will be considered as quality responses and will receive credit.  The more you involve yourself in the conversation, the better your grade is likely to be.
Responding to your classmate’s postings can be done by relating real world experiences to the discussions or building on other’s comments with alternative solutions; pointing out problems or adding another dimension to the discussion.  “I agree” or “yes/no” will not be considered as quality responses and will receive no credit.  Make sure you share your thoughts and experiences.

Individual Policy Analysis Assignment

Students will write one policy research paper, using APA format, (approximately 4-6 pages, excluding title, references, and appendices) that includes both a political analysis and policy analysis of a policy. This paper is not intended to be a programmatic evaluation. This paper offers an opportunity for students to apply course concepts and theoretical frameworks to a policy issue of interest. Relevant literature and data should be used to support your analysis. To facilitate the paper writing process, the following benchmarks have been established:

1) Policy identification: Students are to submit a paragraph no later than May 31 that describes the policy and briefly explains, a) the specific problem it is intended to address, and 2) the rationale for choosing this policy. From Heck (2004), introduction,
“Finding a policy problem to research is a highly individual endeavor. I have observed that for some students, it is easy. Others struggle with where to “find” one. Potential research problems can be found in a variety of places – from personal interest and experience, the workplace, academic journals, grant opportunities from governmental and private funding agencies, as well as in the unfolding news stories that are covered in professional newspapers. Problems may be ideas we have carried with us over the years. In other cases, the ‘light just goes on,’ and one may get an idea for a research study out of something that was covered in the media, or a problem that presents itself for the first time during the course of a conversation” (p. xxii).

2) DRAFT Outline and Literature review: A topical outline and annotated bibliography suggesting the literature that will be used to investigate the policy is due no later than June 8. The intent is to provide an opportunity for students to show progress so there is no required page count. It is assumed that this initial review of the literature will be incomplete. Heck suggests starting your literature review search in the last five years of the Current Index to Journals in Education (CIJE) and the annual meeting programs for the American Educational Research Association (AERA).

3) Final papers are due by, 11:00 PM Central time, June 12.

The paper should define the selected policy and provide a historical context of the policy. It should include an analysis of the how and why this policy was proposed, adopted, and implemented. Students should analyze issues surrounding the policy by applying two policy concepts, frameworks, or theories/theoretical perspectives, such as:

•Political culture and values
• Interest groups
• Conflict and power
• Federalism
• Educational reform and change
• Political systems
• Rational choice theory
• Critical theory
• Institutional theory
• Democratic theory

The analysis should discuss evidence of the policy’s impact. The conclusion of the paper should include a brief discussion of changes in the political environment that have affected the policy’s prominence on the educational political agenda and the future of this policy based on a concept, framework, or theory/theoretical perspective. Please refer to the list of examples above. The same concept/framework/theory/theoretical perspective may be applied or an alternative applied in the conclusion.

Group Writing Assignment:
Examining the Policy Making Process for a Particular Education Policy

Working in groups of 2-4, you will choose a policy or a single policy component of a comprehensive state or federal law (like No Child Left Behind or IDEA). Due no later than 12:00 PM (Noon) Central Time, Friday, June 19, 2015.

Using APA format, write a paper of 6-8 pages of text excluding title, references, and appendices in which you:

1) Identify and describe the policy you are examining in depth.
2) Briefly summarize key details about how the policy came to be (how did it get on the agenda, who championed it, was there a window, what political compromises were made, etc.) and if it is still in place
3) Identify what this policy is/was supposed to do (its intended goal or goals)
4) Identify how this policy is/was supposed to accomplish the goals or who/what entity was responsible for implementing the policy.
5) Summarize the evidence available regarding whether the policy “worked”
(Review at least 5 research articles on the topic. Not all research studies are created equal however. So don’t just go for the first five you find. Try to locate the “big” evaluation study/ies that are commonly cited for this topic).
6) On the basis of this evidence, propose a change that will either make the policy more
successful in attaining its goals or move the policy in a direction of a new and better goal.

Possible Policies Include:
• Class Size Reduction Policies
• School Voucher Policies or Lottery Choice Programs
• Accountability Policies (like NCLB, but select some aspect to examine)
• Student Retention (vs. Social Promotion) Policies
• Teacher Certification Policies (requiring an MA, Student Teaching, etc.)
• Teacher Merit Pay Policies
• Universal Pre-K Policies
• Bilingual Education Policies (like limiting the number of years a student can be in bilingual education)
• Student Assignment Policies to Foster Integration (see Seattle or Louisville)

Group Presentation

Prepare a narrated PowerPoint presentation (7-10 minutes in length) which summarizes your group’s writing assignment. More details to be provided in the online classroom. Other formats are acceptable if preapproved. Due no later than 12:00 PM (Noon) Central Time, Friday, June 19, 2015.

Topical Outline of the Course

Given the assignments of this course, students will demonstrate, in a variety of formats, knowledge and comprehension of each of the following topics as well as the ability to apply that knowledge to analysis of educational programs and policies.

1.    An Overview of the Policy Process
a.    Policymaking and Its Study
b.    Federalism and Policymaking
c.    Studying Policy Development, Implementation and Impact
2.    Conceptual Frameworks and Theories
a.    Political Culture and Policy making
b.    Punctuated Equilibrium Theory and the Advocacy Coalition Framework
c.    Economic and Organizational Perspectives
d.    New Approaches to Policymaking
3.    Policy Research Methods
a.    Qualitative Methods
b.    Multilevel Methods
c.    Growth Modeling Methods





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