Challenging Instruction for "All Students": Policy, Practitioners, and Practice
Abstract"All students" has become a prominent theme in recent instructional reforms."All students" has become a prominent theme in recent instructional reforms. Professional associations as well as federal agencies and state governments propose a fundamental refocusing of what counts as worthwhile knowledge in classrooms, arguing that all students' encounters with school subjects should not be confined to memorizing basic facts, skills, and procedures. They argue that school work should also involve understanding the central concepts, ideas, and ways of knowing literature, mathematics, science, and other subjects. These proposals would require substantial change in the content and pedagogy of the K - 12 curriculum if every American child, especially those who have been marginalized historically, has an opportunity to master more rigorous academic content. The quotations that open this paper suggest that local educators may not see things in quite the same way as school reformers. In the study reported here, I investigated the local implementation of state policy initiatives that propose more intellectually rigorous academic content for all students. After situating my work in the state instructional policy environment in South Carolina, I describe my theoretical perspective and research methodology. I then explore local educators' responses to state policy proposals in relation to their teaching of students who have traditionally not succeeded in school. I analyze local educators? beliefs about, and knowledge of, ?disadvantaged? students, learning, teaching, and classroom management and consider ways in which this web of beliefs and knowledge was influential in the decisions these local educators made about implementing state policy. In light of this analysis, I consider the challenges involved in implementing policies that propose "all" students should do more intellectually challenging work. The intent of this work is to contribute to a modest, but growing, literature that explores the policy implementation process from local enactors? practices and perspectives (McLaughlin, 1987, 1990; Schwille, et al. 1983; EEPA, 1990). My purpose is to contribute to this literature by analyzing the implementation process in schools that enroll predominantly poor students and students of color. My central argument is this: To understand local educators? implementation of policies that challenge conventional wisdom about educating poor students, it is necessary to consider enactors? knowledge and convictions about students in relation to their beliefs about teaching, learning, and classroom management.
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Bibliographic InfoPaper provided by Northwestern University/University of Chicago Joint Center for Poverty Research in its series JCPR Working Papers with number 253.
Date of creation: 08 Jan 2002
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