Charting the Research on the Policies and Politics of Coaching


  • Sarah Woulfin University of Connecticut



Coaching, Student achievement, Policies, Politics


Facing relentless pressure to improve student achievement, many states and districts are using coaching as a policy lever to promote changes in practice. This special issue centers on the policies and politics of coaching, and this editorial commentary highlights what we know about the role of coaches and coaching in the field of education. Then I introduce and synthesize the special issue’s seven empirical contributions. Taken together, these papers, using qualitative and quantitative methods, attend to the implementation of diverse coaching models. These papers surface novel findings on the coaching of both teachers and principals and have implications for scholars, reformers, and practitioners. Finally, I make recommendations for future research on coaching that is grounded in theory and which would advance our understanding of both educational policy and change.


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Author Biography

Sarah Woulfin, University of Connecticut

Sarah Woulfin is an assistant professor of Educational Leadership at the University of Connecticut, Storrs. She studies the relationship between education policy, leadership, and instructional reform. Using lenses from organizational sociology, she investigates how leaders influence teachers’ responses to reform efforts. In her doctoral work at the University of California, Berkeley, she focused on institutional theory, policy implementation, and coaching. She has published in the American Educational Research Journal (AERJ) and Reading Research Quarterly. Currently, she is an associate editor for Educational Administration Quarterly (EAQ). She is also on the executive steering committee of the Districts in Research and Reform SIG at AERA. From 2009-2012, Dr. Woulfin served as the program chair for AERA’s Organizational Theory Special Interest Group. As a former urban public school teacher and reading coach, she was dedicated to strengthening students’ reading and writing skills to promote educational equity. As a scholar, her commitment to raising the quality of instruction motivates her research on how policy influences—and is influenced by—administrators and teachers.




How to Cite

Woulfin, S. (2014). Charting the Research on the Policies and Politics of Coaching. Education Policy Analysis Archives, 22, 50.



Politics, Policies, and Practices of Coaching and Mentoring Programs