Date of Award
Doctor of Education
Norma Mertz, Pamela Angelle, Greg Petty
Education policy designed at reforming the public schools in the United States has been a central concern in the policy arena for several decades. Most of the school reform policies have not provided the desired results. The federal mandate called No Child Left Behind, signed into law in 2002, promised school reform for all fifty states in terms of accountability for the achievement of all students, improvement of teacher quality, empowerment of parents, and promotion of school safety.
The intent of this study was to analyze state educational documents that have been developed to comply with the No Child Left Behind legislation to see how states are structuring their documents with regard to historical political cultures and values. Content analysis was the method used to analyze these plans. This study was designed to answer these questions:
1. Are states developing accountability plans that are consistent with the historical political cultures traditionally associated with that state?
2. Which cultural values are present in state accountability documents and are these the ones generally associated with that political culture?
Based upon the work of Daniel Elazar, Ira Sharkansky, Frances Fowler, and others, two states from each of the eight political cultures (a total of sixteen) were selected for this study. The compliance documents from these sixteen states that addressed the requirements in the federal mandate for accountability and teacher quality were an analyzed for the values within their content. The results were then compared with the historical political cultural profile of each state. Five values-choice, efficiency, equity, fraternity and quality, were used to derive the word counts for the content analysis.
Conclusions drawn from the data obtained from this study are:
1. The sixteen selected states are not developing accountability and teacher quality plans consistent with their historical political cultures in terms of the compliance documents for No Child Left Behind
2. In the analyzed documents, there appears to be a shift toward values that are more conservative or more representative of a business model of operation.
3. The value of efficiency was the overall preferred value in the state documents regardless of political culture. Differences in value preferences were less than might be expected based upon historical political cultural patterns for the states.
4. The analysis of the federal document showed an overwhelming preference for the value of choice. The compliance documents of the states do not mirror this value preference.
Cole, Constance Didlake, "A Content Analysis by Political Cultures and Values of State Compliance Documents for the Federal Legislation, No Child Left Behind. " PhD diss., University of Tennessee, 2006.