PENNSYLVANIA SCHOOL PSYCHOLOGIST'S COMPLIANCE WITH CHANGES MANDATED BY P.L. 94-142 AS A FUNCTION OF SELECTED PERSONAL AND ORGANIZATIONAL VARIABLES (PL94-142)

HOWARD RICHARD MARCUS, University of Pennsylvania

Abstract

This is an investigation of the phenomenon of externally mandated change and its effects on the professional behavior of school psychologists. Studies on the individual's response to legislated change suggest that the collective response of front-line professionals; the street-level bureaucrats, actually becomes the policy in practice--even if the original structure and intent of the reform is lost in the process. Much has been written about how the requirements of P.L. 94-142 place heavy burdens on the time and skills of school professionals. The research suggests that the law has challenged the professional autonomy of school psychologists and has led them to try to balance the demands of the law with their assets. This model of change suggests that school psychologists may be operating within different degrees of compliance with P.L. 94-142. A questionnaire designed to assess personal and organizational characteristics was mailed to a sample of 105 practicing school psychologists. A subsample of 32 was then chosen for personal interviews. During the interview, the subjects responded to two hypothetical cases designed to assess their systems' compliance with the law, and to a series of follow-up questions. Two-way analysis of variance was used to investigate perception of system compliance as a function of reference orientation. Multiple regression analysis determined how effectively a series of personal and organizational variables predicted perception of system compliance. Content analysis of the interviews produced a model for the respose to P.L. 94-142. Results of the various analyses are presented. The content analysis revealed an elaborate web of street-level bureaucratic responses to the law that are not necessarily consistent with its spirit. Five major types of behavior were identified and cited in each of the 22 systems in the study. This study suggests that many school psychologists have complied in ways that minimize change in their behavioral patterns. This may have resulted in effectively blunting the impact of some of the mandated changes. Implications for school psychology and public policy are discussed.

Subject Area

Educational psychology

Recommended Citation

MARCUS, HOWARD RICHARD, "PENNSYLVANIA SCHOOL PSYCHOLOGIST'S COMPLIANCE WITH CHANGES MANDATED BY P.L. 94-142 AS A FUNCTION OF SELECTED PERSONAL AND ORGANIZATIONAL VARIABLES (PL94-142)" (1985). Dissertations available from ProQuest. AAI8603671.
https://repository.upenn.edu/dissertations/AAI8603671

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