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Dietrich, Joseph John (2011) THE EFFECT OF NCLB ON STATE BOARD AND LOCAL SCHOOL BOARD RELATIONS: A PENNSYLVANIA EXAMPLE. Doctoral Dissertation, University of Pittsburgh. (Unpublished)

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The political environment created by the high expectation for educational systems by voters, coupled with the requirements of federal legislation, and the political gains to be made by educational reform politicians exert a downward pressure on local school boards. As a result, school boards are being isolated from the local control that they have traditionally enjoyed. Federal efforts such as NCLB have required state bureaucratic reforms demanding higher levels of conformity with centralized state education policy in many jurisdictions. As a result, school boards may no longer be the representatives of local control but simply the administrators of state policy at a local level. This qualitative study investigates whether a set of school boards in Pennsylvania is losing traditional autonomy and how this may be occurring. Using a critical case study design, the relationship between local school boards in Allegheny County, Pennsylvania and the Pennsylvania State Board of Education (PSBE) is considered in relation to principal agent theory (PAT). PAT is a widely used theory in the social sciences that provides a basic framework for investigating the role of individual and organizational interests, information flows, and incentives in governance settings. Data was collected by interview and sorted by codes based on an a priori content analysis. These codes were then combined to create themes from which the interplay of the relationship between the PSBE and the local school boards can be examined. The key finding of this study supports the idea that Pennsylvania is centralizing authority over education. However, local school boards are also maintaining a high degree of local control as the implementation of state policy has generally been left to the local boards. Findings indicate that those involved in the study feel that state standards and the prescribed Annual Yearly Progress goals have been a positive influence in Pennsylvania. Additional findings of this study are that authority over education in Pennsylvania is more broadly distributed among the state government than expected. This study also provides a policy recommendation that the role of local school boards be reviewed as their function in the new centralized policy environment lacks definition.


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Item Type: University of Pittsburgh ETD
Status: Unpublished
CreatorsEmailPitt UsernameORCID
Dietrich, Joseph
ETD Committee:
TitleMemberEmail AddressPitt UsernameORCID
Committee ChairWeidman, Johnweidman@pitt.eduWEIDMAN
Committee MemberNess,
Committee MemberDennick-Brecht,
Committee MemberGunzenhauser, Michaelmgunzen@pitt.eduMGUNZEN
Date: 13 May 2011
Date Type: Completion
Defense Date: 4 November 2010
Approval Date: 13 May 2011
Submission Date: 4 January 2011
Access Restriction: No restriction; Release the ETD for access worldwide immediately.
Institution: University of Pittsburgh
Schools and Programs: School of Education > Administrative and Policy Studies
Degree: PhD - Doctor of Philosophy
Thesis Type: Doctoral Dissertation
Refereed: Yes
Uncontrolled Keywords: principal agent theory; school boards; state board of education; autonomy; local control
Other ID:, etd-01042011-132638
Date Deposited: 10 Nov 2011 19:30
Last Modified: 15 Nov 2016 13:35


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