Multi-Actor Policy Implementation in Postsecondary Education: A Descriptive Case Study of the Career and Technical Credit Transfer Policy Implementation Process

Parks, Todd, Higher Education - Curry School of Education, University of Virginia
Pusser, Brian, Curry School of Education, University of Virginia

Educational institutions, including workforce development centers, community colleges, and public universities faced a variety of challenges at the beginning of the 21st century, yet few of these tasks captured the public’s attention as much as meeting the workforce development needs of an ailing nation. As the country watched its housing market collapse and economy recede, elected officials began calling on community colleges and public universities to lead the way in restoring America’s economic competiveness.

Across the nation, state leaders, including Ohio lawmakers, have passed legislation to address these concerns and aspirations, but the success of these initiatives depends, in large part, on the efforts of implementing agents and local actors (e.g., administrators, educators) responsible for putting these policies into practice. It is one thing to pass legislation to address education and workforce development needs, but it is quite another for implementing agents to meet policymakers’ expectations.

The purpose of this study is to determine how implementing agents (i.e., workforce development centers, community colleges, public universities) and policymakers shaped the implementation of the career and technical credit transfer policy and identify what strategies policymakers and implementing agents employed to put the policy in place. A qualitative approach was employed. Ten administrators, educators, and others affiliated with Ohio Board of Regents, the Ohio Department of Education, Ohio’s community and technical colleges, Ohio’s workforce development centers, and Ohio’s public universities agreed to participate in the study. Data was gleaned from interviews and document analysis.

Five recommendations emerged from the data. To facilitate the implementation of strategies such as the career and technical credit transfer policy that span multiple institutions, systems, or both, practitioners should consider the following recommendations: 1) Apply political pressure (e.g., legislation) to increase the likelihood that implementing agents act on lawmakers’ recommendations and implement policies that fulfil their objectives; 2) Align institutions (e.g., adult workforce centers, community colleges, and public universities) and modify reporting lines to promote cooperation and increase accountability; 3) Recruit individuals who possess a student-centered attitude and encourage implementing agents and local actors to put students’ interests ahead of self-interests; 4) Involve faculty in meaningful ways and empower them to draw on their experience as educators to figure out the best way to realize legislators’ intentions; and 5) Build on past successes. Pursue smaller, safer victories to increase group cohesion, efficacy, and potency before attempting larger, riskier challenges.

EDD (Doctor of Education)
higher education, workforce development, collaboration, career, technical, policy, implementation, community college
All rights reserved (no additional license for public reuse)
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