Alternative policy instruments
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.