ERIC Number: ED390122
Record Type: RIE
Publication Date: 1993
Reference Count: N/A
Organizational Coupling and the Implementation of Tracking Reform.
This paper examines the implementation of California's 1987 policy promoting the untracking of middle schools, a reform endorsed by the state in both "Caught in the Middle" (1987) and the "English-Language Arts Framework (1987)." Specifically, the paper looks at changes in eighth-grade English tracking policies for a sample of California schools from 1986 to 1991, investigating why some schools embraced and others rejected the state's recommendation. Schools' organizational characteristics and who decided tracking policies (school or district officials) receive explicit attention. An examination of environmental factors affecting the policies of different levels of authority can contribute to an understanding of how reforms traverse, or fail to traverse, various levels of the educational system. Data were obtained from a survey of all 894 California middle schools, which elicited 373 completions, or a 41.7 response rate. Findings show that the school characteristics of graded configuration and eighth-grade student population affected the decision making of both school and district authorities, leading to a coupling of policies in two ways--by first creating institutional environments and then responding to their salient characteristics. The data suggest that state curricular reform must negotiate a complex set of interlocking influences before the state's policy ideals become the school's institutionalized practices. These influences stem from instructional, administrative, and political activities. The eventual success or failure of California's tracking reform, therefore, will be determined not only by who possesses authority over local curricular structures, but also by the organizational and political environments where this authority is discharged. Six tables are included. (Contains 29 references.) (LMI)
Descriptors: Ability Grouping, Educational Environment, Junior High Schools, Middle Schools, Policy Formation, Politics of Education, Public Schools, School Organization, State School District Relationship, Track System (Education)
Midwest Administration Center, The University of Chicago, 5835 S. Kimbark Ave., Chicago, IL 60637 ($2.50).
Publication Type: Reports - Research
Education Level: N/A
Authoring Institution: N/A