Lost in translation? : transformations of federal policy intentions for effective professional development in statewide policy
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[ACCESS RESTRICTED TO THE UNIVERSITY OF MISSOURI AT AUTHOR'S REQUEST.] Teacher professional development is a key policy lever to redress ongoing concerns about teacher quality and student academic success. This policy lever has been and continues to be employed by the U.S. federal government despite modest and uneven results of federally sponsored professional development in the past. Fortunately, a growing body of research has accreted as a consensus view informing how the enterprise of professional development might better support educational reform. To increase its potential effectiveness, professional development itself will have to reflect this consensus view. This study identified federal policy intentions for professional development activities within a grant program authorized by the No Child Left Behind Act of 2001 and examined how federal policy intentions for effective professional development were interpreted and implemented by state and local policy actors in one state. While federal policy espoused intentions related to characteristics of effective professional development, no single policy intention remained consistently unaltered across state and local policy sites over time. Policy intentions were augmented, compromised, or omitted whether in part or whole. Change was the norm. Transformations of intentions did not arise primarily from conflict but rather through the process of seeking of agreement with policy intentions. Furthermore, despite multiple transformations, federal policy intentions informed by research may influence professional development practice. State and local policy actors exhibited intentions that were more so aligned than disparate to federal intentions, and local professional development activities exhibited characteristics of effective professional development. A variety of contextual factors and types of transformations of intentions were identified as potentially supporting or hindering the integrity of policy intentions. The interaction of these contextual factors as well as different types of transformations of intentions simultaneously shaped the level of fidelity to federal policy intentions. Findings revealed policy intentions, even if explicitly stated, were not immune to the confluence of concurrent contextual factors and multiple types of transformations of intentions.
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