Excellence, which is one of the primary goals of most educational reforms, represents a complex and profuse set of ideas. State reforms try to promote excellence in education by altering school policies, yet questions remain about whether excellence can be achieved through legislation. Do reforms typically accomplish what was intended — or do they engender bureaucratization?The authors raise serious questions about the tensions between policymakers and local institutions, and suggest that there are substantial gaps between the intentions and actual consequences of implemented policies. Educational reform that considers the goals of individuals or groups at the expense of institutions can never achieve excellence. The authors argue for cooperative strategies between federal, state, and local authorities that attempt to balance successful institutional practices with individual excellence.

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