Date of Award


Document Type


Degree Name


Organizational Unit

Morgridge College of Education

First Advisor

Susan Korach, Ed.D.

Second Advisor

Elinor Katz

Third Advisor

Kent Seidel

Fourth Advisor

Mary Stansbury


Urban high school reform, School reform, High school case study


Our schools in America are in crisis. At particular risk are poor and minority students who attend high schools in urban areas. With so many urban high schools failing, reformers have sought ways to improve schools and increase student achievement. Effort toward urban high school reform is occurring across the United States. What happens to a school during the process of reform?

The purpose of this case study was to describe the significant events and changes that characterize one urban high school's reform efforts and analyze stakeholders' perceptions about the reform themes found in the researcher literature on high school reform: leadership, students' academic readiness for high school, instruction and school culture.

The results of this descriptive qualitative single case study (Yin, 2003) describe lessons learned from the reform efforts at Star High School. The researcher chronologically organized documents and archival records and described the events and changes made during the reform efforts. The researcher also interviewed ten participants in the reform who represented all stakeholders. The role of the researcher was that of participant-observer.

Findings revealed that the reform events were implementations of a plethora of programs and strategies rather than a systemic effort of reform. The efforts to build a coalition of support amongst all stakeholders resulted in a political struggle for power and control. This struggle derailed the reform efforts at Star High School. The findings also revealed that the multiplicity of programs and strategies, led to a lack of consistency and cohesive focus needed to guide teachers toward effective instruction. The struggles for power and lack of focus resulted in a culture of blame and politics. The passion that all stakeholders shared about providing a better education for its students was compromised by power struggles and it turned into an emotionally painful experience. This study portrayed the complexity of high school reform and informed leaders of the realities and potential pitfalls of leading school reform in a politically charged environment.

Publication Statement

Copyright is held by the author. User is responsible for all copyright compliance.

Rights Holder

Linda Nadene Sorenson


Received from ProQuest

File Format




File Size

163 p.


Educational administration, Education