Date of Award




Document Type


Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy (PhD)


Department of Educational Policy and Leadership

Content Description

1 online resource (xiii, 238 pages) : PDF file, illustrations (some color)

Dissertation/Thesis Chair

Pamela J Theroux

Committee Members

Hal A Lawson, Kathryn S Schiller


Education Legislation, Education Policy Analysis, Education Reform, P-16, Policy Discourse Analysis, Educational change, Education and state, Discourse analysis, School improvement programs

Subject Categories

Education Policy


This study articulates and maps the changes found in the historical discourses of P-16 national policy advocacy and state-level policy formation. The relationship between the momentum to create education reform through policy and the actual creation of the policy through state level regulatory entities is also explored in this research study. The theoretical model developed for this study frames three rationales for policy development- sociological, economic, and organizational rationales. Policy discourse analysis, an examination of policy language, is used as the methodology to develop the narrative of changing discourses. Understanding discourse is a way to understand the meanings, practices, and agendas of policy processes. Through policy discourse analysis, a deeper understanding of P-16 as a large scale education reform is attained. The historical mapping of P-16 discourse development in the United States provides a vital component in understanding the role of discourse in the creation of education policy. Analysis of the both national P-16 policy advocacy documents and state level P-16 policy formation documents demonstrates a shifting of discourses over time. Early P-16 advocates and policy makers were likely to use both sociological and economic rationales in sampled documents. However, later P-16 advocates and policy makers were more likely to use economic rationales. A stable foundation of organizational discourse was uncovered historically throughout both advocacy documents and policy formation documents and provides P-16 with a potential mode of sustainability. In addition, this research found evidence that P-16 policy advocacy discourses were influential on P-16 policy formation discourses.