Date of Award

Spring 2021

Document Type

Open Access Dissertation

Department

Educational Leadership and Policies

First Advisor

Doyle Stevick

Abstract

How do literacy coaches function as policy actors? Using a case study of literacy coaches in a small, rural South Carolina school district, this dissertation explored the ways coaches act as policy actors, the policies coaches create, and how they institutionalize policy.

This study focused on literacy coaches as policy actors. The South Carolina Read to Succeed R2S legislation of 2014 created coaching positions to support teachers in meeting the needs of students and to assist in meeting the requirements of the legislation. These professionals are usually successful master teachers chosen to share their content and instructional expertise. The coaches are not required to have advanced educational leadership training. The demands of reading policies require these coaches to take on leadership roles for which they may not be well prepared. The aim of this research was to determine the role coaches play as policy actor. This knowledge can prepare policy makers to better support literacy coaches in their professional roles.

The study used a focus group and interviews of coaches, principals, and the district literacy director to determine how coaches function as policy actors. In addition, this research analyzed school reading plans to determine what procedures and processes reading coaches created for their schools and districts, and how the coaches institutionalized policies. I used a framework, the 4I Framework, to understand the levels at which decisions are made and the processes the coaches use in making decisions.

The 4I Framework organizes data at the individual, group, and organizational levels, which are linked by social and psychological processes: intuiting, interpreting, integrating, and institutionalizing (Crossan et al., 1999). This study focused on how coaches interpret and integrate at the individual, group, and organization levels. This framework helped me organize my data for analysis and answer my research question.

The findings of this study show that literacy coaches are sophisticated crafters of policies that impact the school district even though they are not aware of the extent of their role in policy creation and implementation. The coaches’ actions influence policy at all levels of development for the organization.

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