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Judie Alison

Doctor of Philosophy, (Education)
Study Completed: 2007
College of Education


Thesis Title
Mind the Gap! Policy Change in Practice. School Qualifications Reform in New Zealand, 1970-2002

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Ms Alison explored the shift from norm-referenced to standards-based assessment for New Zealand school qualifications between 1980 and 2002, as an example of a policy gap in action. She studied government and teacher union documents, and interviewed policy-makers, academics, union activists and thirteen teachers who had taught throughout the period studied. Two determinants of the conflict about school qualifications in the 1990’s were identified: a shift to neo-liberal policy discourses, which did not resonate with practical discourses of the profession; and government’s exclusion of teacher representatives from policy development. Teachers and government ‘talked past each other’. Qualifications reforms that might have been welcomed by the profession were instead largely rejected by most teachers. Consequently, the National Certificate of Educational Achievement is perceived by teachers as externally imposed and its origins within the profession have been forgotten. This indicates that ‘policy gaps’, while easily opened, are not as easily closed.

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Professor John O'Neill

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