Synthesis Paper

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Theneed to find suitable resolutions to educational problems has placedunmatched pressure on educational leaders especially when it comesto matters concerning accountability. Consequently, many scholarshave engrossed themselves in scripting accounts that provideeducational leaders with readable resources that expansively describethe protocols of creating and executing operative educationalpolicies. This document is a synthesis paper of the first fourchapters of the book PolicyAnalysis for Educational Leaders: A step-by-step Approach,inscribed by Nicole A. Alexander. In her text, Dr. Alexander (2012)walks her readers through the steps of policy analysis which can bea very intricate process. In this regard, Alexander’s (2012) textshines by virtue of providing educational practitioners a blueprintthrough which they can design and execute effective policies.Compatibly, this essay will also synthesize the first two parts ofthe text APractical Guide for Policy Analysis: The Eightfold Path to MoreEffective Problem Solving(4thEd.), written by Eugene Bardach. Just like Alexander’s, Bardach’s(2012) text also provides an outline of the concepts that areappropriate to the process of policy analysis which implies that hisbook is equally a success. Irrespective of the fact that both textsbear similar policy analysis protocols, Alexander’s (2012) book ismore informative because she highlights ten steps in the process ofpolicy analysis unlike Bardach (2012) who talks about an eightfoldprocess (path).

Inher text, Alexander (2012) begins by making clear, her recommendationthat policy analysts should make their values and beliefs open toavoid objectivity. To this end, she describes the first stage ofpolicy analysis as that of problem identification. Here, Alexander(2012) clearly states that policy problems become policy issues whenthere is disagreement over which resolution is the most suitable forsolving negative educational hurdles. Mirroring Alexander’s (2012)concept, the first phase of policy analysis, according to Bardach(2012), is defining the problem which he identifies as the mostcrucial step. Predictably, the second stage is also similar in bothtexts. According to Alexander’s (2012) book, policy analysts mustmake a case for change by collecting evidence, which might bepresented in the form of qualitative and quantitative data. Inaccordance to Bardach’s (2012) text, the second phase entailsthinking and looking for data that can be turned into informationand then evidence that has some significant relation to theeducational problem.

Thethird phase is relatively comparable. After evidence has beengathered, Bardach (2012) notes that policy analysts begin toconstruct alternatives. On the other hand, Alexander (2012)identifies the third stage as that of establishing driving valuesevaluated on the basis of cost, effectiveness, equity, andimplementation feasibility. In this stage, Alexander (2012) stressesthe importance of identifying the administrative and politicalcontexts of a policy issue. Bardach’s (2012) third phase isAlexander’s (2012) fourth, where she indicates that policy analystsbegin to develop alternatives after thorough evaluation of thecontexts of an educational issue. She is quick to note that policyalternatives are not policy outcomes or implementation plans.Rather, Alexander (2012) stresses the fact that they are alternativecourses of action. Bardach’s (2012) fourth phase is selecting thecriteria for evaluating the probable policy outcomes, whichcorresponds to Alexander’s (2012) fifth stage she identifies as theweighingoptionsstage.

Thesixth stage, according to Alexander (2012), is the phase where policyanalysts begin to strategically advocate for a policy option that isa suitable alternative. Policy analysts do this by persuadingrelevant decision makers through launching appropriate persuasivearguments. Persuading decision makers is Alexander’s (2012) seventhphase of the policy analysis process. Bardach’s (2012) fifth stageentails policy analysts projecting all the possible outcomes orimpacts of the policy which he also identifies as another hard partof the process. Once this achieved, Bardach (2012) notes that thesixth stage is confronting the trade-offs, which entails matching thebenefits of policy execution to the anticipated outcomes. Afterfinding the alternative that has the greatest ratio of trade-off,Bardach (2012) identifies the next steps of the process as that ofdeciding and implementing (eighth stage) the selected alternative.After persuading decision makers, Alexander (2012) notes that theeighth phase is implementing the solution, followed by monitoringoutputs (ninth phase), and evaluating outcomes (tenth phase).

Indisputably,both texts are very significant because their items of discussion arevital in assisting educational leaders design and implement operativepolicies. However, the book by Alexander (2012) is more informative abook when compared to Bardach’s (2012). As initiallyconceptualized, Alexander’s text sheds light on ten steps of policyanalysis whereas Bardach’s text pinpoints eight steps. Per se,Bardach’s text is not as informative because its procedure ofpolicy analysis does not consider the administrative and politicalcontexts of an educational problem. What’s more, the eightfoldpath, as conceptualized by Bardach, sidesteps the processes ofpersuading relevant decision makers. This means that employing theeightfold process, policy analysts can implement a policy withoutprior consultations and persuasion on the potential benefits of thepolicy. Hence, some grey areas in the policy may go unnoticed becauseof the lack of consultations.

Also,Bardach’s eightfold path circumvents the processes of monitoringoutputs and evaluating the outcomes of policy application. It becomesevident that Alexander’s text is more educative than Bardach’sbook because it clearly elucidates ten steps in the policy analysisprocess. If two groups of educational leaders were to simultaneouslyemploy Alexander’s and Bardach’s steps in an educational setting,the team that employs Alexander’s template will be brandedsuccessfuland effectiveleaders for the simple reason that they will be applying anall-inclusive ten step process in designing and executing theirpolicy plans. To this effect, Alexander’s text is more informativethan Bardach’s.


Alexander,N. (2012). PolicyAnalysis for Educational Leaders: A Step by Step Approach.New York, NY: Prentice Hall. Print.

Bardach,E. (2012). APractical Guide for Policy Analysis: The Eightfold Path to MoreEffective Problem Solving(4th Ed.). SAGE. Print.

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