Standards-based education reform in the 1980s and 1990s
Wages, Evelyn Lamb
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The purpose of this study was to trace how the education standards based reform journey across the history of the United States and specifically Georgia set the stage for later reform implementation. The goals of the study were to examine how officials in Georgia focused the path of education, to discover how practitioners in a local system experienced the 1980s and 1990s, and to compare the local experience to documents. To find out the history of education law and policy, a legal research method was used to study legal documents and public records. A qualitative case study method was used to uncover how happenings in a local school system context interacted with policy changes in a given time period. Retired educators who served as elementary school principals at eight schools in Clarke County, Georgia were interviewed to get their perceptions of local issues and how they experienced the first state mandated curriculum. The findings of the study reveal practitioners are very much able to report happenings during their tenure as principals even after years have passed. Their insights into leadership, intent as well as policy, and effects of local happenings in the day-to-day work are valuable to understanding education during their time of service. The findings suggest that state changes have often been reactive to national demands or to complaints from subgroups of people, and there was not much communication about how local needs would be met. Leaders recognize the best changes were those that helped particular students, and that was typically when there was top-down support and bottom-up collaborative problem solving.