Melanie Ehren

Programme or Policy Theory: Lessons Learned from Two Decades of School Inspection Research


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This paper provides examples of the reconstruction of complex and diffuse school inspection strategies and frameworks. Their wider political and administrative processes and contexts impose specific constraints on the reconstruction of assumptions and introduce a larger set of normative concerns that need to be taken into account. This paper therefore uses the term ‘policy theory’ rather than ‘programme theory’ to reflect on two decades of research on school inspections. Examples from various projects are used to discuss the type of theory and assumptions to reconstruct (normative and causative), the complexities of setting the boundaries for an evaluation, the roles and responsibilities in reconstructing and testing theory and the various methods to use, including more recent approaches from system dynamics.

Policytheorie, Schulinspektionen, Evaluation