Interest Groups in National Reading Policy: Perceived Influence and Beliefs on Teaching Reading

CIERA Report #3-023

Mengli Song, University of Michigan
Cecil Miskel, University of Michigan

CIERA Inquiry 3: Policy and Profession
Is there a connection between perceived influence and policy beliefs among actors in the national reading policy arena? How does their perceived influence relate to their advocacy of phonics-only, whole language-only, or balanced approaches to teaching reading?

Drawing on interviews with 103 policy actors who are active in shaping national reading policy, we examined the levels of interest groups' perceived influence in the national reading policy arena, and their beliefs on reading instructional approaches. Employing thematic analysis and analysis of variance, we found that the interest group community in the national reading policy arena is composed of groups with various levels of perceived influence. Our study also revealed that those interest groups and policymakers show stronger support for a balanced approach than they do for phonics- or whole language-only approaches to reading instruction. The findings from our study suggest that an assessment of various groups' influence is needed in order for policy actors to make sensible judgments when choosing policy allies or building coalitions for effective policy actions, and that a consensus about how reading should be taught has been emerging, or may already have emerged, in the national reading policy domain.












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This paper is forthcoming in Research and Theory in Educational Administration, Vol. 1, 2002.