Doctoral Dissertations

Date of Award


Degree Type


Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy


Political Science

Major Professor

David Houston

Committee Members

John Scheb, Michel Fitzgerald, Patrick Biddix


Schools chase test scores as a means of validating educational practices. Having imposed high-stakes testing, public schools were still not generating the student test scores under policies such as No Child Left Behind, the Department of Education thought would ensue. To hold accountability on the part of the classroom teacher, Race to the Top, and with it, merit pay was imposed by most states within the United States.

Using policy innovation and diffusion frameworks, this research looks at how over time states have come to adopt value-added policies for teacher evaluations. The research takes into consideration the sociopolitical systems that influence adoption of within the K-12 system.

I test six key hypotheses using the event history methodology and building off previous literature which focused on higher education, the research seeks to further the understanding of educational policy diffusion and the driving factors for value-added adoption. In the analysis of the data, it was found that both internal and external determinants were key in understanding how and why value-added policies are adopted by states.

Files over 3MB may be slow to open. For best results, right-click and select "save as..."