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Aligned Instructional Policy and Ambitious Pedagogy: Exploring Instructional Reform from the Classroom Perspective


by James P. Spillane & Nancy E. Jennings ó 1997

In recent years national, state, and local education reformers have paid increasing attention to two ideas about school reform. The first centers on ensuring more ambitious instruction for all students. The second has to do with crafting more coherent and closely aligned policies to support this ambitious instruction. This article explores these two popular reform ideas from the perspective of classroom teaching. We examine nine elementary school teachers?responses to their local school districtís efforts to press more ambitious ideas about literacy instruction. We argue that although the policy alignment strategy may be effective in changing surface-level aspects of teaching, it may be considerably less effective in reforming other difficult-to- reach dimensions of classroom practice (i.e., task and discourse). Further, we highlight the difficulties involved in figuring out the extent to which these recent reforms find their way into classroom practice.


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Cite This Article as: Teachers College Record Volume 98 Number 3, 1997, p. 449-481
http://www.tcrecord.org ID Number: 9618, Date Accessed: 10/25/2014 6:10:05 AM

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About the Author
  • James Spillane
    Northwestern University
    E-mail Author
    Dr. Spillane's work focuses on intergovernmental relations in education and the implementation of educational policy. Specifically, his work explores the policy implementation process at the school district, school, and classroom levels. A former teacher, his work focuses on relations between policy and practice, both administrative and teaching practice, especially with respect to policies that are designed to improve classroom teaching and learning. While building on the implementation research tradition, Spillane's also uses research on teaching and learning as well as work in cognitive science to frame his work.
  • Nancy Jennings
    Bowdoin College
    E-mail Author
    Nancy Jennings has been an assistant professor of education at Bowdoin College since 1994. Ms. Jennings has a B.A. in Classical Languages and a Ph.D. in Curriculum, Instruction, and Social Policy. Her areas of interest are instructional reform, educational policy, and rural schooling.
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