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Can State Education Agencies Lead Reform? Politics, Administration, and the Massachusetts Education Reform Act of 1993

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Abstract:

This paper analyzes implementation of the Massachusetts Education Reform Act of 1993 (MERA) as a case study in state-level education reform. MERA increased state funding of local school districts and also greatly enlarged the state government's role in education. The enlarged state role includes producing curriculum frameworks in core subjects, testing students' mastery of the curriculum, and holding schools and districts accountable for student performance. Despite a billion-dollar increase in state education spending, the state education authorities lack adequate capacity to put the ambitious MERA reforms in place. State capacity has been limited, and implementation hindered, by changes in the political context within which reform is taking place. Based on the Massachusetts experience, we should question the assumption of "policy coherence" that underlies standards-based education reform. We should also expect that the implementation of the federal No Child Left Behind Act will be more complicated than its advocates anticipate.

Most Common Document Word Stems:

educ (252), state (195), reform (118), school (94), implement (73), massachusett (61), local (61), polici (58), mera (57), depart (49), student (48), district (46), standard (42), account (41), capac (37), polit (35), mani (34), act (34), new (34), fund (31), increas (31),

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Keywords: education, state politics, public administration, implementation
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Name: American Political Science Association
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MLA Citation:

McDermott, Kathryn. "Can State Education Agencies Lead Reform? Politics, Administration, and the Massachusetts Education Reform Act of 1993" Paper presented at the annual meeting of the American Political Science Association, Boston Marriott Copley Place, Sheraton Boston & Hynes Convention Center, Boston, Massachusetts, Aug 28, 2002 <Not Available>. 2009-05-26 <http://www.allacademic.com/meta/p66480_index.html>

APA Citation:

McDermott, K. A. , 2002-08-28 "Can State Education Agencies Lead Reform? Politics, Administration, and the Massachusetts Education Reform Act of 1993" Paper presented at the annual meeting of the American Political Science Association, Boston Marriott Copley Place, Sheraton Boston & Hynes Convention Center, Boston, Massachusetts Online <.PDF>. 2009-05-26 from http://www.allacademic.com/meta/p66480_index.html

Publication Type: Conference Paper/Unpublished Manuscript
Review Method: Peer Reviewed
Abstract: This paper analyzes implementation of the Massachusetts Education Reform Act of 1993 (MERA) as a case study in state-level education reform. MERA increased state funding of local school districts and also greatly enlarged the state government's role in education. The enlarged state role includes producing curriculum frameworks in core subjects, testing students' mastery of the curriculum, and holding schools and districts accountable for student performance. Despite a billion-dollar increase in state education spending, the state education authorities lack adequate capacity to put the ambitious MERA reforms in place. State capacity has been limited, and implementation hindered, by changes in the political context within which reform is taking place. Based on the Massachusetts experience, we should question the assumption of "policy coherence" that underlies standards-based education reform. We should also expect that the implementation of the federal No Child Left Behind Act will be more complicated than its advocates anticipate.

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Associated Document Available Political Research Online

Document Type: .pdf
Page count: 37
Word count: 9025
Text sample:
1 Can State Education Agencies Lead Reform? Politics Administration and the Massachusetts Education Reform Act of 1993 Kathryn A. McDermott Assistant Professor School of Education and Center for Public Policy and Administration University of Massachusetts Amherst mcdermott@educ.umass.edu Prepared for the Annual Meeting of the American Political Science Association Boston MA August 29­September 1 2002. This research was sponsored in part by the Massachusetts Education Re form Review Commission (MERRC). I would like to thank Andrew Churchill Andrew Effrat Joseph
Schuster. Stoker R.P. (1991). Reluctant Partners: Implementing Federal Policy. Pittsburgh PA: University of Pittsburgh Press. Sullivan J. (1998). ``True test: Silber gives ed­reform answers.'' Boston Herald May 3 p. 18. Timar T. (1997). The institutional role of state education departments: A historical perspective. American Journal of Education 105 231­260. United States General Accounting Office (1994). Education Finance: Extent of Federal Funding in State Education Agencies. Letter Report 10/14/94 GAO/HEHS­95­3. 36 Walser N. (1997). Financing fairness: Has the Education Reform


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