Local decision making: the relationship between federal educational legislation and educational practices
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The purpose of this heuristic, social constructivist, phenomenological study was to understand the perceptions of teachers, school administrators and state legislators on the relationship between federal legislation, which is affecting educational experiences in Missouri public schools, and educational practices at the local level. This study was guided by each participant's active participation in answering questions and sharing their realities. Six participants were interviewed for this study. Along with the interviews, questionnaires were elicited and documents were analyzed. The recurring themes of accountability, disconnect from federal legislation and active engagement were present in each story. The findings of this study suggest that teachers and administrators feel they are actively involved in the development of curriculum at their district level. Interviewees described themselves as very involved in the process of curriculum development and rated themselves high on how much control they believe teachers have regarding pedagogical decisions and instructional practice. The legislators also responded that their level of involvement is high. When asked about key players in educational curriculum and standards the responses in this area did not always trickle down to the district level but remained at the federal and in some instances the state level. There did appear to be significant disconnect between federal legislation initiatives and state level initiatives and educator involvement. The opportunity for Participatory Action Research as a means for collaboration was explored. Although federal mandates tied to high stakes testing seems to drive some of the curriculum, the teachers and administrators in this study provided dialogue that suggested a sense of independence from the mandates and the freedom to choose instructional methods and pedagogy to meet the needs of students. Though there was still the accountability factor and the fear that schools are not being held accountable by federal mandates in a fair manner.
Table of Contents
Introduction -- Literature review -- Methodology -- Findings -- Implications and recommendations -- Appendix A. Consent for participation in research study -- Appendix B. Introduction to study letter -- Appendix C. Questionnaire-school personnel -- Appendix D. Questionnaire-legislators -- Appendix E. Interview questions -- Appendix F. Letter to obtain permission for study sites -- Appendix G. Phone script