Mind the gap: the difference between policy goals and implementation around fitting education for gifted students
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The gap between policy goals and implementation is one of the main reasons for policy failure. Fitting education for gifted students has emerged as a relatively new policy field in the past decade in the Netherlands. This is partly a result of a report that showed that Dutch education does not meet the needs of gifted students, which often causes social-emotional problems and underperformance for these students. In the case of the policy on fitting education for gifted students, schools are concerned with the implementation of the policy goals that the regional partnerships these schools are part of formulated in 2019. In this study, the policy-implementation gap was examined by analysing data on partnership goals (n=122) that were combined with data on schools and their implementation of the policy (n=1046). The policy goals were compared to the actual implementation, resulting in a measurement of the policy-implementation gap. Results of univariate statistical analysis showed that there is indeed a gap between the policy goals as formulated by partnerships and implementation of policy goals by schools. The gap mainly presents itself in the policy goals that take more effort, time, and money to implement. Additionally, six hypotheses were tested on the effect of school involvement with policy-making, school support for policy goals, and school satisfaction with the partnership and the moderating effect of the level of centralization on these effects. Results of multiple regression analysis showed that there was not enough evidence to reject the null hypotheses in favour of the formulated alternative hypotheses. Regression analysis did show that the policy-implementation gap is larger for secondary schools and for larger partnerships. Based on these results, three policy recommendations on teacher education programs, monitoring within secondary schools, and monitoring and close contact with schools in large partnerships were formulated.
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