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Educational alignment (and sociocultural theory)

Educational alignment - purpose, policy, practice, visionWe know that alignment matters in education (Butler et al 2018), particularly between purpose, policy, practice and your educational vision, as represented in the diagram above. However, this is a gross simplification, not least because when thinking about alignment you need to think about different levels of the system.

Kozma (2003) refers to the macro-level (international, national or regional), meso-level (school or local community), and micro-level (individual classroom). Whilst Kozma states that these three levels were not theoretically driven, they map neatly onto the three levels of analysis of context within sociocultural theory which are summarised in the figure below.

Sociocultural levels of analysis

You you need to achieve alignment within each level. Thus, for example, national purposes, national policies (e.g. the national curriculum and national assessments) and practice standards need to be aligned with the national vision for education (all of which are underpinned by beliefs, values and assumptions within the constitutive order).

Sociocultural model of alignment

You also need alignment between levels. Thus, for example, you need alignment between national policies, school policies and classroom policies, and between nationally set practice standards, each school's intended practice, and each teacher's enacted practice.

Alignment between levels

Using a sociocultural framework provides an analytical lens which helps to unpack the complexity of educational alignment and can help to explain how purposes, policies, practices and visions are mediated through social structures and individuals' identities.

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