The purpose of this study is to investigate the relation between policy as text and policy as practice, with a focus on Swedish educational reform in the 1990s in regard to comprehensive schooling.
School reform in the 1990s has resulted in major changes in Swedish compulsory education. The reform has encompassed a new form of steering system, a new financing system, a new curriculum, new syllabi, a new national employment policy for teachers, a new grading system, and increased privatization of schools.
All of these changes are analyzed in the study with reference to equivalence in the discourses on the national, municipal and school levels. The analysis of the concept of equivalence is linked to the following specific meanings of the concept: equality of opportunity; equality in regard to resources; equality in regard to achievement; and free choice.
The empirical data for this thesis has the following components:
An inter-textual text analysis of the central national steering documents;
Four case studies that deal with the implementation of the reform at the municipal and school levels. These case studies include a text analysis of the municipalities' and the schools' plans, individual and group interviews with school staff at the municipal and school levels, as well as classroom observations conducted in six schools;
A questionnaire which deals with the right to choose a school in another municipality, distributed to all of the municipalities in two counties; and
An analysis of the first twenty-two independent Islamic schools established in Sweden during the period 1993 and 1998.
The results of the aforementioned studies are the following:
Educational policy documents function in practice as inter-textual interventions;
In practice free interpretation and opposition occur;
Reform is a complex interaction between texts and the practitioners (municipal employees, school personnel);
Reform is not an occurrence, but rather a process;
Reform is a compromise;
Reform has an inter-textual character;
The concept of equivalence has diverse meanings:
The occurrence of diverse and conflicting discourses, in regard to equivalence and within the framework for the same reform, gives rise to conflicts in practice;
Goal steering has the potential to promote equivalence in regard to achievement equality as prescribed in the curriculum, which requires that all pupils are expected to achieve the obligatory goals;
The shortcomings of the reform in regard to the evaluation phase limit the implementation of the requirements for equivalence as achievement equality in accordance with the curriculum; and
Negative expectations in relation to certain groups of pupils limit the extent to which the requirements of achievement equality can be implemented in accordance with the curriculum
Stockholm: Pedagogiska institutionen , 1999. , 342 p.
equality, free choice, educational reform, pupil voucher system, effective schools, Islamic schools, inter-textuality