ERIC Number: ED339079
Record Type: RIE
Publication Date: 1988
Reference Count: N/A
The Politics of Legislative Evaluations: Benefits to "Fire-Alarm" Oversight.
Evaluation practices used by state legislatures to monitor educational reform are analyzed in this paper, which focuses on the link between politics and choice of oversight strategies and evaluation methods. Two oversight strategies are compared--"police-patrol" and "fire-alarm.""Fire-alarm" oversight involves selective monitoring, triggered by complaints from citizens and interest groups who bring potential problems to legislators' attention. In "policy-patrol" oversight, legislators monitor policies to detect problems during implementation. A total of 57 interviews with 16 legislators, 24 committee staff, and 17 legislative agency staff were conducted to analyze the strategies used to monitor recent educational reforms in 6 states--Arizona, California, Georgia, Florida, Minnesota, and Pennsylvania. Findings indicate that educational reform was conducted in ways that minimized time commitments and maximized political benefits for legislators. Legislators, or policymakers, preferred to utilize fire alarm techniques, and practicing evaluators tended to patrol. The recommendation is made for practicing evaluators to utilize fire alarm strategies in order to operate as efficiently as their legislative counterparts. (7 references) (LMI)
Publication Type: Reports - Research; Speeches/Meeting Papers
Education Level: N/A
Authoring Institution: N/A
Identifiers: State Legislatures
Note: Paper presented at the Annual Meeting of the American Evaluation Association (New Orleans, LA, October 26-29, 1988).