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Understanding How Policy Meets Practice: Two Takes on Local Response to a State Reform Initiative


"This paper explores the connections between policy and instructional practice through a close reading of contrasting studies and through an exploration of ways, prompted by the studies, to develop better conceptualizations of policy-practice connections. The two studies each examined the same policy case (the early implementation of the California Mathematics Framework more than a decade ago) from different vantage points -- the first paying close attention, from the "inside-out," to the response of a teacher to the state reform policy, and the second focusing, from the "outside-in," on the way the policy's enactment generated changes in local policy implementation and support systems. The contrast between the studies brings to light conceptual blind spots in each research perspective that make it difficult to ascertain whether the studies offer contradictory or complementary understandings of the case and that may lead to under- or over-estimates of policy effects. Further conceptual work suggested by the paper would enable scholars to entertain richer pictures of policy, instruction, and avenues of policy influence on instruction."