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Defining a Policy

What is a "Policy"?

Please clarify the definition of “policy” with your instructor.  It can vary depending on who is teaching the course.


A policy can be defined in several ways. Some people look at all laws and regulations as policies. Others consider a policy to be the process/procedure designed to make sure an agency or organization is acting in accordance with government laws and their corresponding regulations. 


Laws – These are created by legislative bodies of government like the U.S. Congress, state legislatures, and city councils. A law defines what is legal and what is not in relation to the selected topic. Some laws can be very short, simply stating a few facts. Others are very long, defining various subdivisions of a topic.


Regulations – These are used to spell out the details of how a law is to be applied/enforced.


Policies – These are procedures and rules created by agencies or organizations to assure that their work meet the requirements of the laws and regulations created by the government.




A law will mandate that all children attend school until reaching the age of 16. 


The related regulations will define:

·         The nature of the school they can attend (public, private, home schooling)

·         The age or skill level the child must obtain in order to begin schooling in a recognized system

·         The exact date to which the age of 16 applies (first day of the school year in which they will turn 16, or the exact

         birth date upon which age 16 is reached)


The policies are created by the school district or other organization that will be working directly with the student and family.  These might include:

·         The paperwork required to prove the age of the student to start or leave school

·         How to close out the student’s records with the school they had attended when they leave

·         How to obtain copies of the student’s records from the school district