In This Article Expand or collapse the "in this article" section Policy

  • Introduction
  • General Overviews
  • Journals
  • Advocacy Organizations and Research Centers

Education Policy
Sarah Anne Eckert, Dana L. Mitra
  • LAST REVIEWED: 19 August 2020
  • LAST MODIFIED: 15 December 2011
  • DOI: 10.1093/obo/9780199756810-0063


Education policy can be understood as the arrangement of rules, laws, and norms designed to govern the various systems of education. The selections included in this bibliography are meant to demonstrate the complexity involved in designing, adopting, enacting, implementing, and analyzing education policy at many levels of the education system. Education provides a unique context for the study of policy due to the many levels of governance and the simple fact that a good deal of educational practice occurs in individual classrooms with seemingly autonomous teachers. The article begins with general overviews of education policy that serve as foundational resources and is followed by a more detailed look at the policy process and theoretical perspectives of education policy. There is a special focus on school reform, a process intimately linked with education policy, with the understanding that school reform and education policy are not synonymous. The books, articles, reports, and chapters presented have been chosen for their importance in the field or for the foundational knowledge that they provide. The journals and research centers presented were chosen because they provide excellent examples of the journals, research centers, and advocacy organizations concerned with education policy.

General Overviews

The following introductory texts provide comprehensive background information on education policy as well as school reform, a concept that is intrinsically linked to education policy. The study of education policy involves a mixture of concrete topics and theoretical perspectives, and many of these texts work to provide overviews of the many topics and theories common in education policy. The recently compiled Handbook of Education Policy Research (Sykes, et al. 2009) was published by the American Educational Research Association and is an excellent foundational resource for anyone interested in policy research. Many of the other texts listed in this section are very useful as textbooks for introductory courses on policy (Fowler 2009; Fuhrman, et al. 2007), school reform (Jossey-Bass Inc. 2001, Fuhrman and Lazerson 2005), or educational foundations. Fowler 2009, in particular, although intended for educational administrators, is an excellent resource for undergraduate as well as graduate students who are hoping to understand the policy process and the various actors involved in policy making. While this text includes many examples, the focus is much more abstract. Fuhrman, et al. 2007, on the other hand, is suitable for a more advanced audience of graduate students and researchers studying educational policy and politics. The texts on school reform (such as Fuhrman and Lazerson 2005), on the other hand, focus more on the integration of examples of the key issues in American school reform with theoretical explanations.

  • Fowler, Frances C. 2009. Policy studies for educational leaders: An introduction. 3d ed. Upper Saddle River, NJ: Pearson Education.

    An introductory textbook intended for educational administrators, this text provides information regarding analysis, development, and implementation of educational policy. More specific, the author explores the reasons for change in educational policy, ways to track its evolution, and techniques for influencing its ultimate destination.

  • Fuhrman, Susan H., David K. Cohen, and Fritz Mosher, eds. 2007. The state of education policy research. Mahwah, NJ: Lawrence Erlbaum Associates.

    This comprehensive examination of education research covers the politics of education, issues of race and class, state policies, and national trends.

  • Fuhrman, Susan, and Marvin Lazerson, eds. 2005. The public schools. Institutions of American Democracy Series. New York: Oxford Univ. Press.

    A collection of essays on several key issues in US education policy by prominent authors in the field. Topics include civic engagement, the context of American schooling, and teaching and curriculum.

  • Jossey-Bass Inc. 2001. The Jossey-Bass reader on school reform. San Francisco: Jossey-Bass.

    This collection of articles, book excerpts, and commissioned reports provides a diversity of perspectives and many of the seminal publications concerning education reform. The book is organized into five parts, covering perspectives on reform, major milestones, responses to diversity, the organization of schooling, and standards and assessment.

  • Spring, Joel H. 2010. American Education. 14th ed. New York: McGraw-Hill Higher Education.

    This text provides an introduction to the historical, political, social, and legal foundations of education and to the profession of teaching. Now in its fourteenth edition, this text provides an up-to-date view of current educational issues.

  • Sykes, Gary, Barbara L. Schneider, David Nathan Plank, and Timothy G. Ford, eds. 2009. Handbook of Education Policy Research. New York: Routledge.

    Drawing from multiple disciplines, the 100+ authors featured in this collection address three central questions: What policy issues and questions have oriented current policy research? What research strategies and methods have proven most fruitful? And what issues, questions, and methods will drive future policy research?

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