Cover: Alternative policy instruments

Alternative policy instruments

Published 1987

by Lorraine M. McDonnell, Richard F. Elmore

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A major challenge for the next generation of policy research will be to apply the lessons of past implementation studies to building a more powerful conceptual framework and in producing more useful information for policymakers. Recent education reforms enacted by state governments to raise student standards and improve teacher quality provide a unique opportunity for addressing that challenge. In order to determine under what conditions different instruments are most likely to produce their intended effects, this Note builds a conceptual framework that categorizes alternative policy instruments, or the mechanisms that translate substantive policy goals into actions. The framework includes four generic classes of instruments--mandates, inducements, capacity-building, and system-changing. Besides describing and defining these types of policy instruments, the authors identify the factors that shape the choice of one instrument over another, and outline a research agenda for testing this analytical framework in the assessment of educational reform policies.

This report is part of the RAND joint note education series. The joint note was a product of RAND from 1986 to 1991 that included documents published jointly with other organizations, which reported other outputs of sponsored research for general distribution.

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