Linking Research to Educational
Policy and Practice: What Kind of
Relationships in How (De)Centralized
Donald K. Adams, Mark B. Ginsburg, Thomas Clayton, Martha E. Mantilla, Judy Sylvester, and Tidan Wangr2
The 1980s and 1990s have witnessed heightened international concern about enhancing educational quality (Chapman & Carrier, 1990; Fuller, 1987; Hallak, 1990; Heyneman & Loxley, 1983). While the concern is almost universally shared, different conceptions of what constitutes educational quality have been adopted (Adams, 1993). Moreover, there have been debates on two issues related to the process of improving educational quality. The first concerns the alternative models for the relationship between researchers and policymakers/practitioners in efforts to link research and policy/practice, and the second involves arguments about the merits of centralized, linear versus decentralized, iterative strategies for reforming education. In this chapter, we summarize the issues raised in these debates and then explore them using illustrations drawn from documentation research of a USAID-funded project, Improving Educational Quality (IEQ), which operated in Ghana, Guatemala, and Mali during the years from 1992 to 1996.
Much of the research on educational quality may be categorized roughly into two methodologically and conceptually distinct approaches: school effects (see, e.g., Hanushek, 1994) and effective schools (see, e.g., Lezotte,