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Dissertation/Thesis Abstract

The Common Core State Standards Initiative: An event history analysis of state adoption of common K-12 academic standards
by LaVenia, Mark, M.S., The Florida State University, 2010, 132; 1504007
Abstract (Summary)

During the summer of 2010, states across the U.S. adopted in quick succession the Common Core State Standards in English language arts and mathematics. States vying for Race to the Top (RTTT) funds were compelled by the U.S. Department of Education to adopt the standards by August 2, 2010 in order to compete more favorably. Whereas analysts from organizations such as the Brookings Institute, Cato Institute, and Heartland Institute have brought attention to an overexertion of federal influence on the Common Core State Standards Initiative (CCSSI), the National Governors Association, Council of Chief State School Officers, and U.S. Secretary of Education Arne Duncan have downplayed the role of federal incentivization, instead, underscoring the unprecedented state leadership employed in the development and adoption of the Common Core State Standards.

The purpose of this study was to explore reasons behind states' adoption behaviors as they relate to the Common Core State Standards. I used an innovation diffusion framework in this investigation, positing that, in addition to the vertical influence from the U.S. Department of Education, other factors might account for variation in adoption activity. Alternative models investigated to explain common standards adoption patterns were guided by the policy diffusion literature and included the states' own internal conditions ("determinants"), national interaction among states, and the regional diffusion of policy ideas between states (Berry & Berry, 2007).

The dependent variable, timing of adoption, was measured as the date on which the state board, state chief, or state legislature in each state voted or decided to adopt the common standards. Data on the dates of state adoption were generated from the CCSSI (2010e) map of adoption in the states, Education Week Web log postings (e.g., Gewertz, 2010d), National Conference of State Legislatures (2010) Education Bill Tracking Database, and primary source documents (Alabama Department of Education, 2010; Idaho State Board of Education, 2010; Oregon School Boards Association, 2010). The independent variables, representing the various explanations for policy adoption, were drawn from a comprehensive assembly of recent reports from national organizations (e.g., Editorial Projects in Education, 2010c) as well as from other publically available data sources (e.g., U.S. Census Bureau, 2010).

Like many recent studies in comparative state policy, I used event history analysis, a longitudinal logistic regression modeling approach for investigating the probability that an event will occur as a function of one or more independent variables. The model fitting procedure taken in the current study included, first, fitting single explanation models (for each innovation diffusion model of internal determinants, national interaction, regional diffusion, and vertical influence) and, second, fitting a full model containing all models of innovation diffusion.

The full model suggested that, in addition to the vertical influence of federal incentivization predicting whether and when states adopted common standards, effects for variables indicating internal determinants, national interaction, and regional diffusion were evident. Specifically, holding all other variables constant and controlling for the main effect of time, the estimated odds of adopting common standards were more than 50% lower for states to adopt if they had a republican governor, 40% higher for each additional national consortia in which a state was a member, more than 40% lower for each additional neighbor state to have adopted prior to the reference state's adoption, and five and one-fifth times higher for states vying for RTTT funds compared to states that were not.

Although RTTT fund aspiration was estimated to have had the largest effect among the predictor variables modeled, it is notable that RTTT fund aspiration was not the sole predictor to contribute toward explaining variation in state adoption activity. Of particular note, was that the estimated odds ratio for adopting common standards associated with RTTT fund competition reduced from 9.37 (in the single explanation model) to 5.20 (in the full model), indicating that the odds of adopting common standards appeared nearly twice as large when only considering the states' aspiration to compete for RTTT funds. Moreover, the influence of RTTT fund aspiration was large across all models; however, its effect was inflated when not also considering other explanations for adoption.

Notwithstanding the need for further investigation, taken as a whole, the final model revealed that state adoption activity was not solely driven by states' aspiration to compete for RTTT funds, but also was associated with internal determinants indicative of political orientation, national networking through consortia, and the adoption activity of neighbor states.

Indexing (document details)
Advisor: Lang, Laura B.
School: The Florida State University
School Location: United States -- Florida
Source: MAI 50/02M, Masters Abstracts International
Subjects: Education finance, Education Policy, Education
Publication Number: 1504007
ISBN: 978-1-124-91860-0
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