Moving from Philosophy to Reality: The Innovation Agenda in the Cambridge Public Schools.
Abstract: Recent federal education reform initiatives have encouraged local
innovation in schools' attempts to improve learning for all students, and reduce
achievement gaps among subgroups. This study examines one school district's approach.
During the 2012-2013 school year the Cambridge Public School (CPS) district in
Massachusetts adopted a plan, termed the "Innovation Agenda," to equalize ... read moreaccess to high
quality education for all students across the district. Using Kingdon's multiple streams
framework of agenda-setting I explore: 1) why the Innovation Agenda focuses on its
particular framing of the problem, and proposes its particular solutions, 2) which
exogenous factors in CPS' broader ecology, and which endogenous factors within the city,
helped shape the local policy agenda. Based on document analysis and interviews, I
construct a narrative of the decision-making process that resulted in the adoption of the
Innovation Agenda. Results show that early in the process families spoke mostly about the
middle school model and the impact changes would have on existing programs, followed by the
organization and roll out of middle schools. Both topics were spoken about predominantly
negatively. There was a decrease in the percentage of total, and negative, comments made by
families about these topics after the Superintendent presented a revised version of the
policy focused on these content areas. School communities were involved in the process to
different extents. The Amigos and Tobin communities emerged as policy entrepreneurs,
successfully achieving many of the changes for which they campaigned. Superintendent Young
and Mayor Maher were also policy entrepreneurs. Timing appears critical to this policy
innovation; the 22-month term for mayor and the fact that Mayor Maher and Dr. Young were in
office at the same time seems to have moved the Innovation Agenda forward.
Thesis (M.A.)--Tufts University, 2013.
Submitted to the Dept. of Urban and Environmental Policy and Planning.
Advisor: Francine Jacobs.
Committee: Laurie Goldman, and Lori Likis.
Keywords: Education policy, Public administration, and Public policy.read less
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