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The Soft Realities of Hard Policies: A Systems Study of After-School Continuous Quality Improvement (Poster 14)

Mon, April 25, 11:30am to 1:00pm PDT (11:30am to 1:00pm PDT), San Diego Convention Center, Floor: Upper Level, Sails Pavillion


The implementations of U.S. education policies often do not match policy makers’ intent. In our study of continuous quality improvement (CQI) implementation in California’s publicly funded afterschool programs, we see evidence of this, as only a fraction of afterschool sites implements CQI six years after the establishment of a state policy requiring it. In this study, we apply systems theory to investigate how “hard systems” assumptions interact with the “soft systems” realities of the education system in which CQI is implemented. We explain problems with CQI implementation through an understanding of the social relations, information flows, goals, and organizational cultures that characterize the system. The system’s organization creates silos of information and territorial behavior which limit CQI implementation.