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The Nitty-Gritty: Doing Case Study Research on School Improvement Programs

By: & Published: 2017 | Product: SAGE Research Methods Cases Part 2
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During the 2014-2015 academic year, WestEd hired us as research interns at the West Comprehensive Center in Phoenix, AZ. As PhD students, our task was to conduct a collective case study on two local education agencies in Arizona that participated in a 2-year school turnaround specialist program. The goal of the project was to gain a deeper understanding of the ways that the school turnaround specialist program influenced district, principal, and teacher practices; policies; school culture; and associated student outcomes uniquely in the Yuma Elementary District One middle schools in Yuma, AZ, and in the Whiteriver Unified School District on the White Mountain Apache Indian Reservation. To do this, we utilized a case study approach as a means to retrospectively understand the school turnaround experiences of the two purposively selected local education agencies. In this brief overview, we provide a description of the methodological choices we made in designing and executing data collection for this case study. Specifically, we aim to provide an insider’s perspective on the opportunities and challenges that the local education agencies presented as we engaged in data collection at both research sites.

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