Challenges in Local Policy Implementation: Requirements for Partially Accredited Schools in Virginia

Perkins, Terri, Administration and Supervision - Curry School of Education, University of Virginia
Young, Michelle, Curry School of Education, University of Virginia

This capstone explored a problem of practice – the challenge of policy implementation for schools rated Partially Accredited in Virginia. Complex challenges exist in the implementation of policies in public schools. Adding to the struggle of implementing educational policies in general are the particular challenges posed when schools with low student achievement face difficult accountability policies (Darling-Hammond, 1990; Honig & Rainey, 2012; Mintrop, 2003; O’Day, 2002). The purpose of this study was to develop an understanding of policy implementation at the local district level, in the context of one such accountability regulation in Virginia – 8VAC20-131-310 – Action requirements for schools designated Partially Accredited.

This qualitative case study explored implementation of the regulation in four Virginia school districts. The researcher used a conceptual framework around the domains of policy, people, and places in implementation, along levels of the policy chain from policy officials to district and school leaders (Berman, 1978; Honig, 2006). Data included document reviews and interviews with participants at the state, district, and school leadership levels. The research question was: How are school districts implementing Virginia’s regulation for schools labeled Partially Accredited?

Findings highlighted pathways and obstacles to implementation. Many of the policy elements frustrated implementers, creating obstacles; although leaders found pathways when they collaborated in multi-level teams and when they implemented targeted actions that addressed particular issues in their schools. District and school participants viewed the context of their own schools as critical to consider, however, did not believe policy officials accounted for school or district context in implementation. The study’s findings confirmed several themes in literature on local policy implementation and led to implications for practitioners to clarify policy elements; thoroughly plan implementation strategies and steps; and consider school context in implementation.

EDD (Doctor of Education)
local policy implementation in schools, school improvement, accountability policy implementation
Issued Date: