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Tid för reformering: Försöksverksamheten med slopad timplan i grundskolan
Umeå University, Faculty of Social Sciences, Department of Political Science.
2007 (Swedish)Doctoral thesis, monograph (Other academic)
Abstract [en]

In 1999, the Swedish Parliament decided to launch an experiment to test the idea of replacing, at the compulsory educational level, the national time schedule with localized control of schedules. This was in keeping with strategies of deregulation, decentralisation and increased local autonomy that had dominated Swedish education policy, particularly since the 1990s. The aim of the thesis is to describe and analyse the initiation, decision, implementation and consequences of this experiment

The analytical framework combines several different approaches and theories from the literature on public policy and policy analysis. The framework encompasses four dimensions, which cover the experiment’s origins, local application in the classroom setting and consequences. On the empirical level, findings are based on interviews with 32 municipal school directors, and head teachers, teachers and pupils in three schools participating in the experiment, as well as written sources from schools, municipalities, and the national level.

The thesis shows that the policy problem the experiment was intended to resolve was represented in an inconsistent manner: On the one hand, the experiment was perceived as a driving force for change; on the other hand, it was seen as legitimising a change that had already taken place. Furthermore, the experiment was formulated in vague terms, which accorded far-reaching discretionary space to the schools. The program’s causal theory expressed by the policy makers was complex, containing a multifaceted chain of presumptions on a range of activities and processes through which the experiment ultimately would lead to improved opportunities for pupils to reach the educational objectives. Empirically, this prediction proved to be invalid as student achievement did not increase.

The degree of implementation at the local level varied according to the comprehension, capability and willingness of those involved to carry out the experiment. The courses of action taken by the schools frequently could have been undertaken within the existing legislative framework, as they mostly concerned new ways of working and organising staff and pupils. An assessment of the objectives attained showed that, even if elements of developmental work corresponding to the direction stated in the policy documents were observed, the experiment did not emerge as the primary explanatory factor for this result Thus, the net impact of the experiment can be questioned. If judged against the criterion of adaptiveness, the results are more successful than if the experiment is assessed according to goal-attainment and the validity of the program theory. The experiment was found to integrate, alter and accommodate itself readily to local needs.

The thesis illustrates the complexity of formulating and implementing policy in a decentralised context and points to important aspects in the historical background of the programme, which often tend to be overlooked when policy is analysed and discussed. At the same time, the study sheds light on the significant role played by street-level implementation actors in the educational context.

Place, publisher, year, edition, pages
Umeå: Institutionen för Statsvetenskap, Umeå universitet , 2007. , 298 p.
Statsvetenskapliga institutionens skriftserie, ISSN 0349-0831 ; 0349-0831
Keyword [en]
education policy, Sweden, experiment, compulsory education, implementation, governing of the education sector, timetable allocation
National Category
Political Science (excluding Public Administration Studies and Globalization Studies)
Research subject
URN: urn:nbn:se:umu:diva-1082ISBN: 978-91-7264-280-5OAI: diva2:140137
Public defence
2007-05-03, S 205 H, Samhällsvetarhuset, Umeå universitet, Umeå, 10:15 (English)
Available from: 2007-04-11 Created: 2007-04-11 Last updated: 2009-06-03Bibliographically approved

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