Week 5 Progress

This week I wrote a literature review. I had to take relevant sources and summarize my findings over the past few weeks. Writing the review was new for me because I was started with almost 40 sources. I was not used to writing a review with so many sources and was unsure at times where to begin. I separated my sources into five sections; types of reform, problems, solutions, problems/solutions, and unsure. I then fit the articles under various headings based on the category they were paired with. I began the review with an introduction followed by a short history of State Education Agencies. I then broke down types of reforms, problems, solutions, and questions that need to be answered. I found that many of the sources were repetitive, and many points were interesting but irrelevant to the review. I also found that with some articles, I was unsure where to place them. I found that these articles had value, but I was not sure where they fit in the review without appearing random. This is a first draft and I have much to improve, but this literature review will lead me to my next steps of a more narrow path to take in my research. This upcoming week I will meet with my advisor and make revisions to the draft I completed in week 5.

Week 3 and 4 Progress

These past two weeks have consisted of going through sources and finding things to put in a literature review. I have finished collecting sources and am now working on a literature review consisting of up to date research that has been done on State Education Agencies. So far, I have discovered that there is not a lot of research that has been completed on these agencies which I have mentioned in previous posts. I have collected 37 sources that consist of journal articles, books, blogs, and other articles. Many reiterated things stated in other sources while others were very narrow. These two weeks I had to decipher which sources were most relevant to my literature review before I began writing. I can clearly see that sources discovered at the beginning of my bibliography are very different than the ones found towards the end of my bibliography. I had to discover which path I was interested in researching and focus on those key questions and topics. Going through my sources, I have discovered that the kinds of sources changed and how I found them changed. With the guidance of my research advisor and a research librarian, I learned to look at specific journals and databases to find relevant sources. In the coming week I will write my literature review and develop questions that will then lead to further research.

Week 2 Progress

This past week I have continued searching for sources and reading their contents. I began looking more at books and journal articles. I was tasked with looking in specific journals and book publishers. I was also tasked with reading parts of Splintered Accountability State Governance and Education Reform by Arnold F. Shober. I was told to read parts of the book and to think about the autonomy and scope of government agencies. This book helped reinforce ideas I had discovered in other sources I had read. From reading this book, along with outside articles, I have learned that state education agencies are tricky. They are all different and what they are each capable of is in great part determined by the people within the agency. Agencies must keep policy makers, their party, and local government satisfied. This is often impossible because there are conflicting interests. Leaders of these agencies must be strategic in effecting change and must use their power to change the scope of their agency. Agencies want to be autonomous so they can enact reforms and see them through to the end without other reforms overlapping and stopping progress. With this autonomy agencies have power over implementing reforms, policy, and rules. Agencies can increase their scope meaning to increase the tasks and policy areas they wish to focus on. Another thing I learned this past week is that leadership can influence the scope of an agency. Agency leaders can work with researchers, policymakers, and administrators to influence change. State education chiefs have a lot of control and can persuade others to follow a new direction for different reforms. I’ve also learned that agency reforms often end before results are seen. Aside from all these obstacles and organizations, there are also education researchers that can come in and influence agencies and policymakers by providing suggestion for types of reform. All these complex factors have some say in school reform and because of this, agencies must work with other organizations to be successful.

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Week 1 Progress

The first week of research consisted of preliminary research and planning for the rest of the summer. The week began with my first meeting with my advisor marking the beginning of research. We discussed expectations and goals for the summer. The main goal established was to create something that can be used by others in the future, so student researchers in the future can pick up where I left off. Three projects were established to meet this goal. By the end of the summer my aim is to create my own data set, a research poster reflecting my work for the research symposium in the fall, and a mini research paper. The main reason I am doing research this summer is to determine my future career interests. Is research for me? Is graduate school for me? What is government research? This study will help me to answer these questions.
My first task was to identify at least 20 sources answering questions regarding State Education Agencies, agencies tasked with implementing federal and state education programs and policies. They must also make sure these policies are carried out in school districts. I was told to find sources dealing with the (1) capacity of State Education Agencies to perform tasks (2) the performance of schools, students, and the agencies and (3) state education agencies contributing to or hindering equity in schools. I found that state education agencies are caught between meeting the needs of schools and the federal government. The preliminary research suggests that state education agencies lack the capacity to perform tasks. This upcoming week I am to continue finding sources and learn more about the topic.

Abstract

With the implementation of the No Child Left Behind Act, came new requirements for schools such as an annual testing requirement with particular standards, exams, cut scores, and people to score the exams (p50). These requirements are then met through state education agencies who have obligations to appease to education unions, businesses, and the federal government. The members of these agencies typically have no experience writing or grading tests leading to difficulties (p50). Aside from the exams themselves, implementing supplementary programs to improve test scores created another hurdle for agencies on top of all other challenges. Due to the demands of NCLB, states complained about the lack of resources needed to implement the demands (p53). Agencies sought assistance from test contractors who at times computed the scores of subgroups based on race and ethnicity inaccurately (p51). Contractors also made errors grading exams increasing the amount of time to compute final test scores (p51). In response to concerns, the Bush administration gave states credit for anticipated progress rather than actual progress while failing to meet the demands of the states (p54). From 2007-2009, NCLB had failed to have been reauthorized (p61). When reauthorized in 2009 under the Obama administration the momentum for change from the Bush administration was not present and as states argued for more funding, members of the administration claimed NCLB was adequately funded with a 43% increase from when President Obama assumed office (p62). President Obama’s budget requests did not reach what was needed for NCLB according to certain state budgets (p62). Nine school districts filed a lawsuit against NCLB; however, it resulted in a split decision (p64). This background information displays the reasoning for concerns over a lack of funding for government agencies. This study will provide evidence to defend and refute claims of there being too little funding and there being enough funding for education policies to be implemented.

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