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Negotiating Policy Meanings in School Administrative Practice: Practice, Professionalism, and High Stakes Accountability in a Shifting Policy Environment

Abstract

"Using a micro-sociological approach, this paper examines how school leaders and teachers negotiate the meanings of emerging high stakes accountability policy in formal school meetings. In doing so, the chapter examines how policy advanced at the macro level gets worked out at the micro level in school administrative practice. Exploring policy in school administrative practice, we uncover how school leaders work to advance the legitimacy of external policy, negotiate its meanings, and attempt to compel teachers' cooperation. School leaders in our study did so by deploying formal authority, as well as, various tactics described in earlier theoretical work on social influence, such as invoking a shared in-group identity and/or underscoring moral worth. In deploying these social tactics, school leaders engaged not only in rhetorical framing, but also rhetorical footing as they worked to convince teaching staff of policy's legitimacy and its meanings for classroom instruction. Our account demonstrates how these negotiations extended beyond the technical implications for instruction as school leaders and teachers re-negotiated what it means to be a professional educator in a shifting policy environment and who, or what, holds authority on matters of teaching practice in particular."

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