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Introduced in educational contexts by Karl Weick (1976), the concept of “loose coupling” is widely used in education research to describe the weak connection between classroom practices, administrative goals, and the environment of education organizations. The concept captures how the core of education—what and how children learn— occurs in a relatively isolated classroom, shielded from outside intrusion or oversight. In contrast, some organizations, and some natural systems, have parts that are tightly coupled. This entry discusses the reasons why loose coupling has characterized schools, the impact that loosely coupled dimensions of schools have on efforts to reform schools, and how changes in education have challenged the idea of loose coupling.

The concept of loose coupling has advanced our understanding of the limitations of school reforms, ...

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