Case Studies of Urban Schools: Portrayals of Schools in Change

Publication December 1997

This document describes the findings of a research project entitled “Case Studies of Urban Schools,” a National Center for Research in Vocational Education study. The project was designed to describe how a small group of comprehensive high schools in urban areas are developing, implementing, and evaluating educational restructuring initiatives that include vocational education as a key component of those efforts.

Qualitative research methodologies were employed to describe the contextual factors that both facilitate and impede the restructuring-related actions taking place in each of these schools. The two primary research questions addressed in this document are (1) How has each site implemented educational restructuring initiatives? and (2) How does vocational education fit into those restructuring efforts? The case studies serve to explain the socio-environmental context, relationships, and processes that existed in each of the four sites that enabled the schools to change their form and function in an attempt to enhance the school and post-school outcomes of all students.

This monograph gives the reader an overview of the project and provides a literature review discussing previous educational restructuring theories and initiatives. This literature review describes previous educational restructuring research initiatives, educational restructuring efforts specific to urban areas, and educational restructuring related to vocational education. Based on information gleaned from the literature reviewed, the refinement of an analytical framework designed to assist with data analysis and interpretation is posited. There is also a description of the processes and procedures each of the partner-sites utilized to develop, implement, and evaluate restructuring initiatives.

Finally, a cross-site analysis is presented of the themes that emerged during data analysis that were consistently identified, either implicitly or explicitly, by the four partner-sites as key elements associated with educational restructuring actions. This document will extend the individual case study findings and will assist the investigators in inducing a practically derived theory and description of existing educational restructuring initiatives.

Wermuth, T. R., Maddy-Bernstein, C., & Grayson, T. E. (1997, December). Case studies of urban schools: Portrayals of schools in change. Berkeley, CA: National Center for Research in Vocational Education.

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