Defense Date


Document Type


Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy



First Advisor

Katherine Cumings Mansfield

Second Advisor

Yvonne Brandon

Third Advisor

Whitney Newcomb

Fourth Advisor

Jason Smith


More people are striving for increased levels of educational attainment as a result of a global shift towards a more knowledge based economy. Schools and communities have adjusted to this societal change by seeking alignment along the educational pipeline from preschool (P) to graduate school (20), otherwise known as P-20 reform. This reform often develops with the collaboration and guidance of specific P-20 leadership councils that exist at both the local and state levels. The main purpose of this qualitative study was to go beyond the mere descriptions of P-20 councils to examine the policy pathways chosen by P-20 councils, specifically the relationship between policy context, design, and implementation of P-20 reform.

Texas and Tennessee were selected as case sites for a cross comparison policy analysis that utilized interviews and document analysis to examine leadership and contextual influences to the reform, with a focus on state and local P-20 councils. An interpretive theoretical framework helped garner the meaning-making of policy leaders throughout the movement’s existence, while Kingdon’s multiple streams model helped organize the episodic nature of policy. Findings showed varied approaches within and between states leading to mixed levels of sustained P-20 councils and leadership. Finally, best practices for P-20 councils are shared as the problems P-20 seeks to address continue to persist and the P-20 movement adapts to a changing local and national context focused on college and career readiness.


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