Micropolitics of Implementing a School-Based Bonus Policy

The Case of New York City's Compensation Committees

Published in: Educational Evaluation and Policy Analysis, 2012

Posted on RAND.org on January 01, 2012

by Julie A. Marsh

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This article examines the micropolitics of implementing New York City's Schoolwide Performance Bonus Program and school governance bodies (Compensation Committees) that determined distribution of school-level rewards among personnel. Drawing on a two-year, mixed-methods study, the author finds that although most participants surveyed described a democratic process, case data suggest that principals sometimes overtly and covertly exercised power to shape decisions. The author finds that egalitarian norms, macro-political pressures, the tendency to suppress conflict, and policy design explain why most committees developed equal-share distribution plans even though a significant proportion of members favored some differentiation. The article illuminates the challengesof engaging stakeholders in incentive program design and affirms the value of combining political and sociological perspectives to understand education policy implementation.

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