Award Date


Degree Type


Degree Name

Doctor of Education (EdD)


Educational Leadership

First Committee Member

Edith Rusch

Second Committee Member

Robert McCord

Third Committee Member

LeAnn Putney

Fourth Committee Member

Martha Young

Number of Pages



A problem for educators and scholars is that there is little understanding of how the agendas of particular interest groups reflect the intent of federal agencies or lawmakers as education policies take shape during the rulemaking process. As a result, it is difficult to determine whether federal education policy is influenced by outside interest groups. The purpose of this study was to provide an understanding of the influence of interest groups during the informal stage of federal rulemaking in education policy. The research questions being examined include: 1) In what ways do different influence the rulemaking process in the development of federal education policy? and 2) In what way does the rulemaking process support or reinforce democratic principles? This qualitative research study was framed by a collective case study design. Purposeful sampling was used to examine 3 education interest groups who mad public comment on the U.S. Department of Education's Race to The Top education policy. Discourse analysis was utilized to collect data on selected interest groups. A questionnaire and/or interview was incorporated to collect data from select individuals within participating interest groups. Data collected was analyzed using the Complementary Action Research Matrix Application to compare expected policy outcomes with evident policy outcomes.

Utilizing agenda setting and sensemaking models as analytical frameworks, interviewed interest group participants were asked about the expected and evident outcomes of the Race to The Top policy, their perspective on the federal rulemaking process, their organizational ideological stance, and the decision-making process used to determine involvement in education policy matters. The findings indicated that interest groups who are members of networks and those who are rich in resources such as data and research were more likely to influence federal education policy. In addition, the democratic principles of legitimacy and acceptance were found to be supported by the results of this study. Credible interest groups with robust public documentation of resources and membership in state networks took the opportunity to participate in the shaping of education policy. The findings of this study supported a changing educational polity and a new strategy in federal education policy.


Education and state; Educational reform; Influence; Networks; Policy sciences; Pressure groups; Public interest groups; Reform; Rulemaking


Educational Leadership | Education Policy

File Format


Degree Grantor

University of Nevada, Las Vegas




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