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How Do States Implement College-and Career-Readiness Standards? A Distributed Leadership Analysis of Standards-Based Reform

Purpose: Our primary purpose is to examine the implementation of college- and- career- readiness content standards in Kentucky, Ohio, and Texas through the lens of distributed leadership theory, and to determine the affordances and challenges of this distributed leadership through the lens of policy attribute theory. 

Research Methods/Approach: We analyze data from 66 hour-long interviews of state and district administrators across the three states collected from Spring 2016 to Spring 2017. Using a deductive coding approach, we developed themes around distributed leadership as they pertain to the five attributes of policy implementation: specificity, consistency, authority, power, and stability. Findings: Using the distributed leadership and policy attribute theories, we find similar trends in state leaders distributing instructional leadership to regional, district, and organizational leaders to add specificity to the college and career readiness standards at the expense of compromising the consistency and power of the reform. This distribution of leadership is thought to contribute to the authority of the reform, though this authority is made tenuous by the instability of educational policies at the national and state levels. 

Implications: We highlight the need to examine the implementation of education policy using leadership frameworks and to understand leadership relationships between the state their regional and district partners. We extend the use of the distributed leadership theory beyond the K-16 level and the use of policy attribute theory to showcase where state actors can strengthen their reform initiatives.

This article is published by Educational Administration Quarterly.

Katie Pak, Laura M. Desimone
Year of Publication: 

This research article examines standards implementation through the lens of state, regional, and district leadership relationships.