Policy Variation among Japan, Korea, England and the United States


  • Jaekyung Lee University of Maine




Cross Cultural Studies, Curriculum Development, Educational Change, Elementary Secondary Education, Foreign Countries, International Education, Standards, Student Evaluation


School reform initiatives during the last two decades in Japan, Korea, England, and the United States can be understood as balancing acts. Because policymakers in England and the United States saw their school systems fragmented and student outcomes mediocre, they focused reform efforts on raising educational standards, tightening curriculum and assessment, and improving academic achievement. In contrast, policymakers in Japan and Korea, who saw their school systems overstandardized and educational processes deficient, focused their reform efforts on deregulating schools, diversifying curriculum and assessment, and enhancing whole-person education. While school reform policies were formulated and adopted in response to each countrys unique problems, they also were driven by globalization forces that fostered an international perspective. If implemented successfully, such cross-cultural policy variations (i.e., standardization vs. differentiation in curriculum, unification vs. diversification in assessment, and privatization vs. democratization in governance) would make distinctive educational systems more alike. Cultural and institutional barriers to educational convergence between the Eastern and Western school systems are discussed.


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Author Biography

Jaekyung Lee, University of Maine

Jaekyung Lee is an assistant professor of educational policy and research at the University of Maine. He is a National Academy of Education/Spencer Postdoctoral Fellow and was a Korea Foundation for Advanced Studies Doctoral Fellow. His past and current research also has been supported by the American Educational Research Association, the National Center for Education Statistics and the National Science Foundation. His research interests include assessing the impact of education policies on teaching and learning and identifying elements of systemic school reform which impact academic excellence and equity.




How to Cite

Lee, J. (2001). Policy Variation among Japan, Korea, England and the United States. Education Policy Analysis Archives, 9, 13. https://doi.org/10.14507/epaa.v9n13.2001