The Transfer of Educational Policies and Practices Across International Borders
Carr, Olivia Grace
Educational transfer by way of isomorphism is the inspiration for this dissertation. In the course of three papers, I study three aspects of the policy making process: adoption, adaptation, and evaluation. In the first paper, I use an event history analysis to examine the diffusion of lower secondary compulsory schooling laws throughout Africa. In this paper, I test reasons for diffusion that are prominent in the Western compulsory schooling law literature and add additional predictors that are likely to better represent educational governance in Africa. The main finding from this paper is that lower secondary compulsory schooling law adoption in Africa can be predicted primarily through common linguistic and historical ties between countries, rather than through other variables that are theorized to be important from prior literature. For the second paper, I qualitatively study three Tennessee schools that were pilot sites for a teacher collaboration model called Teacher Peer Excellence Groups (TPEG), which is a version of lesson study. Through interviews and observations, I examine the enabling conditions that supported TPEG cycles, how TPEG has adapted to the local contexts to become sustainable collaborative practices, and whether these adaptations have resulted in professional knowledge-building as intended from TPEG. Results reveal the particular importance of instructional leadership for the sustainability of TPEG and show how teachers maintain many steps of TPEG but replace the observation step with other practices to promote the transition from a practitioner knowledge base to a professional knowledge base. In the third paper, I use data from four waves of the Programme for International Study Assessment and a country fixed effects model to test the expectation that incorporating student assessment data into teacher evaluations improves student learning. To overcome problems with selection bias, I aggregate the use of this type of evaluation system to the country-year level. The results indicate that using student assessment data in teacher evaluations does increase student learning in mathematics (but not reading), though this effect is more prevalent in country-years with a low GDP per capita, and the effects are reversed for countries with a high GDP per capita.
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