State educational agencies in an uncertain environment: Understanding state provided networks of English Language Arts curricular resources




Common Core State Standards, Curriculum, State Educational Agencies, Social Network Analysis, Isomorphism


Rapid adoption of the Common Core State Standards (CCSS), the Race to the Top (RTTT) competition, and backlash around these policies created widespread uncertainty among state educational agencies (SEAs). SEAs may have not had a clear direction about how to support standards implementation in a new context, and therefore, may have looked to their professional networks, their geographic neighbors or other highly regarded SEAs, or other sources for information and resources to guide their decisions about where to send teachers for information about standards. Drawing on institutional theory (Meyer & Rowan, 1977) and isomorphism specifically (DiMaggio & Powell, 1983), we posit that coercive forces (primarily due to RTTT application and CCSS status) as compared to mimetic and normative forces influenced the organizations to which SEAs turn for curriculum materials. Using Multiple Regression Quadratic Assignment Procedure and a data set of over 2,000 state-provided resources for secondary English Language Arts teachers from all 50 states and Washington, D.C., we indeed found that coercive forces had a relationship with shared organizational ties, demonstrating that RTTT application and CCSS adoption influenced resource provision.


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Author Biographies

Serena J. Salloum, Ball State University

Serena J. Salloum is an Associate Professor of Educational Leadership at Ball State University. She is interested in how school context facilitates educational outcomes. In particular, she focuses on how organizational culture and structure promotes equity in high poverty schools. Current projects include investigating the instructional resources State Educational Agencies endorse for Common Core implementation and implications for classroom instruction and how early career teachers’ planning and enactment of mathematics instruction is influenced by their social network members and social context. 

Emily M. Hodge, Montclair State University

Emily M. Hodge, Ph.D., is an assistant professor in the Department of Educational Leadership at Montclair State University. She received her PhD from the Department of Education Policy Studies at the Pennsylvania State University. Her work uses qualitative methods and social network analysis to understand the changing nature of strategies for educational equity. Recent projects have explored how educational systems, schools, and teachers negotiate the tension between standardization and differentiation in the context of the Common Core State Standards, and the varied strategies state education agencies are using to support standards implementation.

Susanna L. Benko, Ball State University

Susanna L. Benko is an associate professor of English at Ball State University, where she teaches courses about writing pedagogy and young adult literature. She is also the Director of the Indiana Writing Project and Director of English Education. As a teacher and researcher, she is interested in the teaching of writing—in practice and in policy—at middle and secondary levels. Her work has been published in journals such as Journal of Literacy Research, English Education, Journal of Adolescent and Adult Literacy, and English Teaching: Practice and Critique. Prior to her work at Ball State, she taught middle and high school English in Indiana and Pennsylvania.




How to Cite

Salloum, S. J., Hodge, E. M., & Benko, S. L. (2020). State educational agencies in an uncertain environment: Understanding state provided networks of English Language Arts curricular resources. Education Policy Analysis Archives, 28, 125.



Researching 21st Century Education Policy Through Social Network Analysis