Case Studies

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Promotion vs. Retention at Innovation Academy

Summary: The eighth grade teaching team at Innovation Academy debates whether to retain or promote Adahuaris, an eighth grader who has made great strides academically in the face of numerous personal struggles, but who is also failing multiple courses and reading well below grade-level.


Disruption: A Micro-Normative Case Study

Summary: Adam is single-handedly disrupting class and hence preventing the other 26 students in the class from learning.  He has some special needs that may be exacerbating his behavior, but he seems to be disrupting class intentionally because he’s worried he won’t be able to succeed on the next assignment, given his poor literacy skills.  Adam's aide is out sick, and the teacher can't modify her lesson on the fly.  What should she do?



The Ethics of Pandering

Summary: Urban school districts struggle to serve all students' needs, including both the low-income children of color who tend to comprise the bulk of urban school students and also the middle-class children of predominantly white new urbanites who have been drawn back into the city in recent years.  These middle class families have the clout to pull additional resources into the public schools, if they join the system, but their values and preferences aren't always consonant with those held by lower-income parents.  In designing a new school assignment plan, is it ethical to pander to middle class families’ preferences so as to draw them, and their social and economic capital, into the public system?

Read a journal article on this case study: Open Access | Original Journal


Open Classroom Climate at McCormack

Summary: Jonah, a Orthodox Jewish middle school student, proposed to protest against same-sex marriage in Massachusetts, on Talmudic grounds, in the "citizenship project" in his school. Homophobia at McCormack is overt and unapologetic; out of the school's over 750 kids, there was no one who was out, or known to have same-sex families. What should Jonah's teachers do?