This article examines the loosely coupled nature of the US educational system and explores recent systemic reform initiatives designed to improve education through more tightly coupled education policy and practice. The utility and limitations of loose coupling as an organizational construct are examined and critiqued. A number of significant forces are exerting ever-greater pressure on policymakers to more tightly couple US education, including environmental pressures, the emergence of powerful new institutional actors, an emergent institutional capacity, and institutional isomorphism. After reviewing the effectiveness of systemic reform initiatives in several states, the article concludes that education in the USA is moving toward a system of fragmented centralization in which policymakers have greater opportunity to craft more coherent, systemic education policy amidst competing demands for limited resources.
Journal of Educational Administration – Emerald Publishing
Published: Dec 1, 2002
Keywords: Policy; Organizational change; Centralization