Perspectives on Policy/Practice (Dis)Connection—Special Educators Turned Teacher Educators’ Points of View


Educational policy and practice have long been disconnected. This paper explores the experiences of two former teachers turned teacher educators as they examine unintended consequences of policy reform. This paper positions No Child Left Behind’s and Individuals with Disabilities Education Act’s “Highly Qualified Teachers,” “Annual Yearly Progress,” and the issues of “evidence-based practices” alongside the authors’ personal school-based examples to demonstrate (dis)connections between policy, schools, and classrooms. The analysis provides a critique of these policies to demonstrate where teacher educators can take an active role in helping future teachers understand implications of these policies.

Share and Cite:

Young, K. and Curcic, S. (2013) Perspectives on Policy/Practice (Dis)Connection—Special Educators Turned Teacher Educators’ Points of View. Creative Education, 4, 452-460. doi: 10.4236/ce.2013.47065.

Conflicts of Interest

The authors declare no conflicts of interest.


[1] Barzun, J. (1959). The house of intellect. New York: Harper Collins Publishers.
[2] Borkowski. J. W., & Sneed, M. (2006). Will NCLB improve or harm public education? Harvard Educational Review, 76, 503-727.
[3] Bowker, G., & Star, S. L. (1999). Sorting things out: Classification and its consequences. Cambridge, MA: MIT Press.
[4] Coburn, C. E. (2004). Beyond decoupling: Rethinking the relationship between the institutional environment and the classroom. Sociology of Education, 77, 211-244. doi:10.1177/0038040704077
[5] Cohen, D. K., & Spillane, J. P. (1992). Policy and practice: The relations between governance and instruction. Review of Research in Education, 18, 3-50.
[6] Curry, M., Jaxon, K., Russell, J. L., Callahan, M. A., & Bicaise, J. (2008). Examining the practice of beginning teachers’ micropolitical literacy within professional inquiry communities. Teaching and Teacher Education, 24, 660-673. doi:10.1016/j.tate.2006.10.007
[7] Darling-Hammond, L. (1990). Instructional policy into practice: “The power of the bottom over the top”. Educational Evaluation and Policy Analysis, 12, 339-347.
[8] Darling-Hammond, L. (2004). From “Separate but Equal” to “No Child Left Behind”: The collision of new standards and old inequalities. In D. Meier, & G. Wood (Eds.), How the no child left behind act is damaging our children and our schools: Many children left behind (pp. 3-32). Boston: Beacon Press.
[9] Darling-Hammond, L., & Wise, A. E. (1981). A conceptual framework for examining teachers’ views of teaching and educational policies. Santa Monica, CA: RAND Corporation.
[10] Ellison, E., & Kritsonis, W. A. (2006). Making educational methods more lucrative: A postmodernist’s perspective. National Journal for Publishing and Mentoring Doctoral Student Research, 3, 1-6.
[11] Elmore, R. (1983). Complexity and control: What legislators and administrators can do about implementing policy. In L. S. Shulman, & G. Skyes (Eds.), Handbook of teaching and policy (pp. 342-369). New York: Longman.
[12] Elmore, R. F., & McLaughlin, M. W. (1988). Steady work. Policy, practice, and the reform of American education (ED 296 020). Washington DC: National Institute of Education.
[13] English, F. (2003). The challenge of postmodernism to the theory and practice of educational administration. Springfield, IL: Charles C. Thomas Publisher.
[14] Figlio, D. N., & Getzler, L. S. (2002) Accountability, ability and disability: Gaming the system. National Bureau of Economic Research, Working Paper No. 9307.
[15] Florian, L. (2007). Reimagining special education. In L. Florian, & Sage Publications Inc. (Eds.), The SAGE handbook of special education (pp. 1-20). London, Thousand Oaks: SAGE Publications.
[16] Gamse, B. C., Bloom, H. S., Kemple, J. J., & Jacob, R. T. (2008). Rea ding first impact study: Interim report (NCEE 2008-4016). Washing ton DC: National Center for Education Evaluation and regional Assistance, Institute of Education Sciences, US Department of Education.
[17] Greenlee, B. J., & Bruner, D. Y. (2001). State assessment rediscovered: Can accountability tests initiate better reading? Wingspan, 14, 2-5.
[18] Grubb, W. N., Kinlaw, H., Posey, L., & Young, K. (2011). Dynamic inequalities III: Exploring what schools do for low performing students. In N. Grubb (Ed.), The money myth: School resources, out comes, and equity. New York: Russell Sage Foundation.
[19] Guilfoyle, C. (2006). NCLB: Is there life beyond testing? Educational Leadership, 64, 8-13.
[20] Guthrie, J. T., Mcrae, A., & Lutz Klauda, S. (2007). Contributions of concept-oriented reading instruction to knowledge about intervenetions for motivations in reading. Educational Psychologist, 42, 237-250. doi:10.1080/00461520701621087
[21] Hallinan, M. T. (1996). Bridging the gap between research and practice. Sociology of Education, Special Issue on sociology and educational policy: Bringing scholarship and practice together, 69, 131-134.
[22] Hamill, P., & Boyd, B. (2001). Striving for inclusion: Evaluation of provisions for young people with social, emotional and behavioral difficulties (SEBD) in secondary schools in Scottish Council. Scottish Educational Review, 33, 142-156.
[23] Hart. S., Dixon, A., Drummond, M. J., & McIntyre, D. (2004). Learning without limits. Maidenhead, Berkshire, England: Open University Press.
[24] Head, G., Kane, J., & Cogan, N. (2003) Behavior support in secondary schools: What works for schools? Emotional and Behavioral Difficulties, 8, 33-42.
[25] Honig, M. I. (2006). Street-level bureaucracy revisited: Frontline district central-office administrators as boundary spanners in education policy implementation. Educational Evaluation and Policy Analysis, 28, 357-383. doi:10.3102/01623737028004357
[26] Illinois State Board of Education (ISBE) (2008). Response-to-Intervention.
[27] Individuals with Disabilities Education Act (IDEA), US Department of Education (2004).
[28] Individuals with Disabilities Education Improvement Act (IDEIA) (2004).
[29] Johannesson, I. A., Lindblad, S., & Simola, H. (2002). An inevitable progress? Educational restructuring in Finland, Iceland, and Sweden at the turn of the millennium. Scandinavian Journal of Educational Research , 46, 325-339. doi:10.1080/0031383022000005706
[30] Kelchtermans, G. (2005). Professional commitment beyond contract: Teachers’ self-understanding, vulnerability and reflection. Keynote presented at the Bi-annual meeting of the International Study Association on Teachers and Teaching (ISATT), Sydney.
[31] Kelchtermans, G., & Ballet, K. (2002). The micro politics of teacher induction. A narrative-biographical study on teacher socialisation. Teaching and Teacher Education, 18, 105-120. doi:10.1016/S0742-051X(01)00053-1
[32] Kelchtermans, G., & Vandenberghe, R. (1996). Becoming political: A dimension in teachers’ professional development. A micropolitical analysis of teachers’ professional biographies. Paper presented at the Annual Meeting of the American Educational Research Association, New York (ERIC-Document ED 395-921).
[33] Keogh, B. K. (1990). Narrowing the gap between policy and practice. Exceptional Children, 57, 186-191.
[34] King, B. W. (2006). Relationship of principal’s leadership behaviors to academic achievement and school improvement efforts. Unpublished Doctoral Dissertation, College Park: University of Maryland.
[35] Kuiper, E., Volman, M., & Terwel, J. (2005). The web as an information resource in K-12 education: Strategies for supporting students in searching and processing information. Review of Educational Research, 75, 285-329. doi:10.3102/00346543075003285
[36] Kuzmic, J. (1994). A beginning teacher’s search for meaning: Teacher socialisation, organisational literacy, and empowerment. Teaching and Teacher Education, 10, 15-27. doi:10.1016/0742-051X(94)90037-X
[37] McLaughlin, M. W. (1987). Learning from experience: Lessons from policy implementation. Educational Evaluation and Policy Analysis, 9, 171-178.
[38] Meyer, J. W., & Rowan, B. (1977). Institutionalized organizations: Formal structure as myth and ceremony. American Journal of Socio logy, 83, 340-363. doi:10.1086/226550
[39] No Child Left Behind Act (2001). Pub. L. No. 107-110, 107th Congress.
[40] Park, S. H., & Ertmer, P. A. (2007). Impact of problem-based learning (PBL) on teachers’ beliefs regarding technology use. Journal of Research on Technology in Education, 40, 247-267.
[41] Pressley, M., Hilden, K. R., & Shankland, R. K. (2006). An evaluation of end-grade-3 Dynamic Indicators of Basic Early Literacy Skills (DIBELS): Speed reading without comprehension, predicting little. East Lansing, MI: Michigan State University, College of Education, Literacy Achievement Research Center (LARC).
[42] Rogers, J., & Oakes, J. (2005). John Dewey speaks to Brown: Research, democratic social movement strategies, and the struggle for education on equal terms. Teachers College Record, 107, 2178-2203. doi:10.1111/j.1467-9620.2005.00588.x
[43] Ryan, J. E. (2004). The perverse incentives of the No Child Left Behind act. New York University Law Review, 79, 932-989.
[44] Sarason, S. B. (1990). The predictable failure of education reform: Can we change course before it’s too late? San Francisco: Jossey-Bass.
[45] Schilling, S. G., Carlisle, J. F., Scott, S. E., & Zeng, J. (2007). Are fluency measures accurate predictors of reading achievement? Elementary School Journal, 107, 429-448. doi:10.1086/518622
[46] Schoen, L., & Fusarelli, L. D. (2008). Innovation, NCLB, and the fear factor. Educational Policy, 22, 181-203. doi:10.1177/0895904807311291
[47] Scott, W. R. (1983). Introduction: From technology to environment. In J. W. Meyer, & W. R. Scott (Eds.), Organizational environments: Ritual and rationality (pp. 13-17). Beverly Hills, CA: Sage.
[48] Scott, W. R. (2004). Institutional theory: Contributing to a theoretical research program. In K. G. Smith, & M. A. Hitt, (Eds.), Great minds in management: The process of theory development (pp. 460-484). Oxford: Oxford University Press.
[49] Silins, H., Zarins, S., & Mulford, B. (2002). What characteristics and processes define a school as a learning organisation? Is this a useful concept to apply to schools? International Education Journal, 3, 24-32.
[50] Simola, H., Rinne, R., & Kivirauma, J. (2002). Abdication of the education state or just shifting responsibilities? The appearance of a new system of reason in constructing educational governance and social exclusion/inclusion in Finland. Scandinavian Journal of Educational Research, 46, 247-264. doi:10.1080/0031383022000005661
[51] Skiba, R., Simmons, A., Ritter, S., Kohler, K., Henderson, M., & Wu, T. (2006). The context of minority disproportionality: Practitioner perspectives on special education referral. Teachers College Record, 108, 1424-1459.
[52] Skrtic, T. M. (1995). Special education and student disability as organization and change. In T. Skrtic (Ed.), Disability and democracy: Reconstructing (special) education for postmodernity (pp. 5-22). New York: Teachers College Press.
[53] Spillane, J. P., Reiser, B. J., & Reimer, T. (2002). Policy implementation and cognition: Reframing and refocusing implementation research. Review of Educational Research, 72, 387-431. doi:10.3102/00346543072003387
[54] Troia, G. A., Shankland, R. K., & Wolbers, K. A. (in press). Motivation research in writing: Theoretical and empirical considerations.
[55] US Department of Education (DOE). (2002). No Child Left Behind Act of 2001. Washington DC: Author. Retrieved October 2, 2006, from the U. S. Department of Education Website
[56] US Department of Education. (2003). Meeting the highly qualified teachers challenge: The secretary’s second annual report on teacher quality. Washington, D.C.
[57] US General Accounting Office (GAO). (2004). Special education: Additional assistance and better coordination needed among education offices to help states meet the NCLBA teacher requirements (Report to the Ranking Minority Member, Committee on Health, Education, Labor, and Pensions, U.S. Senate No. GAO-04-659).
[58] US General Accounting Office. (2003). Comparison of achievement results for students attending privately managed and traditional schools in six cities. Report (GAO-04-62) to the Chairman, Committee on Education and the Workforce, House of Representatives.
[59] Weatherly, R., & Lipsky, M. (1977). Street-level bureaucrats and institutional innovation: Implementing special education reform. Harvard Educational Review, 47, 171-197.
[60] Wood, G. (2004). A view from the field: NCLB’s effects on classrooms and schools. In D. Meier, & G. Wood (Eds.), How the No Child Left Behind Act is damaging our children and our schools: Many children left behind (pp. 33-50). Boston: Beacon Press.

Copyright © 2024 by authors and Scientific Research Publishing Inc.

Creative Commons License

This work and the related PDF file are licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 International License.