The ‘Gap’ Between Policy Intent and Policy Effect: An Exploration of the Interpretations of School Principals in China

The Impact and Transformation of Education Policy in China

ISBN: 978-1-78052-186-2, eISBN: 978-1-78052-187-9

ISSN: 1479-3679

Publication date: 30 December 2011

Abstract

This chapter explores the ‘gap’ between policy intent and policy effect through the eyes of a group of practising school principals in China. The reform policies targeted are the new curriculum, the school review system and personnel system. The universalising tendency of educational reform towards decentralisation and marketisation has swept across China as it has in Western democracies. Another trend Chinese education shares with other systems is that central policy initiatives go through a complex process of interpretation and re-interpretation before they reach schools, a pattern that continues as schools struggle to implement them. Using interview data collected from 11 secondary school principals in Shanghai, China, the chapter suggests that the way in which policy is interpreted and translated in schools is influenced by the particularities of the context, and that the status of the school plays a particularly important role in this process. Despite the moderating role of the local context, some commonalities across principals' policy interpretations emerge. These commonalities suggest that universal education reform policies inevitably reflect cultural and societal characteristics when they are introduced and adapted to the specific national context.

Keywords

Citation

Qian, H. and Walker, A. (2011), "The ‘Gap’ Between Policy Intent and Policy Effect: An Exploration of the Interpretations of School Principals in China", Huang, T. and Wiseman, A. (Ed.) The Impact and Transformation of Education Policy in China (International Perspectives on Education and Society, Vol. 15), Emerald Group Publishing Limited, Bingley, pp. 187-208. https://doi.org/10.1108/S1479-3679(2011)0000015011

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Emerald Group Publishing Limited

Copyright © 2011, Emerald Group Publishing Limited

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