This conceptual paper offers a framework for understanding how educational policy is related to subject matter. Drawing on literature concerning instructional policymaking and the cultures that surround teaching in different subject areas, the paper distinguishes and illustrates three types of policy, that ignore, target, or differentiate among subject matter areas, respectively. The paper then demonstrates, for each type, how subject matter acts as a crucial context for policy implementation and effects, affecting the policy's impact in often unintended ways. Typically ignored by policy research, these dynamics have special importance for the analysis of reform policies, as well as for the making of policies aimed at teaching and learning.
An Occasional Paper by Pam Grossman, Susan S. Stodolsky, and Michael S. Knapp, December 2004.