City High School Case Summary

User Generated




I have a case needs to summarize in a half page (NO more); double-spaced.

Unformatted Attachment Preview

City High School Case School Context City High School (CHS) serves a low-income city neighborhood (98% of students qualified for free or reduced lunch). The school is comprised of mainly African American (67%), Latina/o(24%), and White students (7%). CHS has been placed in remediation1 for the past 4 years and this has had an effect on teachers and students. The school status has in part surfaced discussions and interpretations by teachers and staff regarding students’ lives and families as having a lack of interest, support, and willingness to succeed in school. In turn, the school has labeled and identified students as “struggling” and positioned them as “at risk.” Tracking and the status of the school (largely supported by federal and state policies) has had consequences on the types of texts, tasks, and activities that students are asked to carry out in the classroom. In ELA classrooms, for example, “regular” (unofficially known as “low-track”) classes are steeped in rote learning and worksheets and with little to no discussions of the texts read. Low-track courses predominantly enroll African American and Latino students. The status of the school and the issues that pervade the school (along with the pervasive failure of public schools in general) are often explained through deficit views, including those related to cultural and characteristic differences of marginalized groups (cf. McDermott, 1987), or lack of skills, knowledge, and interactional styles necessary to succeed in school. The political dynamics that shape the school system contributes to the feel of the school as resistant to improvement and change. In particular, the school and district leadership has not shifted significantly in the last decade, leaving school administrators, such as Dr. Hill and Mr. Lewis, in place who continue to frame learning as improving standardize test scores and to place a meritocratic emphasis on student academic success and failure. All these aspects serve as justification for many teachers to practice and interact with students in ways that are detrimental to students. Case Narrative Ms. Mendez is a fourth-year teacher and head of the English Department at City High School (CHS). Although a fairly new teacher, her peers elected her head of the department based on her strong pedagogical practices and relationships with her students. The school principal, Mrs. Yarell, is new to CHS this year and she decided to meet with Ms. Mendez to get a sense of her ideas about how to engage teachers in ongoing in-school professional development to enhance their practice. Mrs. Yarell is particularly interested in how department chairs are addressing the high failure rates of students in the school that she has recently been assigned to. The principal is aware of some of the issues that her new school faces, but finds that she needs more clarity about what is taking place in the school. During the meeting Ms. Mendez explains to the principal and assistant principals, Dr. Hill and Mr. Lewis, that the teachers in the English Department, and most likely in all other departments, need professional development in culturally relevant and responsive pedagogy and the need for peer observations. By partaking in observations of peers, Ms. Mendez believes two things can be accomplished: (a) highlight the expertise of teachers at CHS and find ways for instituting these strong pedagogical practices among the whole English Language Arts (ELA) Department and (b) understand better the issues contributing to student disengagement and academic failure. Ms. Yarell agrees that peer observations will be useful and in the need for professional development regarding practices that align with students’ cultural knowledge. Ms. Mendez leaves the meeting relieved that the new principal sees the importance of connecting students’ culture and linguistic practices to curriculum but is also hesitant as to what she can accomplish in this school. After all, Ms. Yarell may be new to the school but Mr. Lewis and Dr. Hill have been there for over 6 years and their focus has been on standardized test scores and both often talk about serving “difficult” students. Observations Ms. Mendez discussed with her English department colleagues peer observations as part of inschool professional development. She made it clear that she would also be partaking in peer observations, by observing other teachers and other teachers observing her, as a way to provide concrete support for teachers and deepen her own practice. She also made it clear that these observations would not serve as evaluations but were an opportunity to raise critical questions and point out possible assumptions and contradictions in the pedagogical practices observed, including her own. Peer observations were to take place during the second semester of the school year. The ELA Department teachers agreed to conduct observations during their prep period once every 2 weeks and to work out the schedules among each other. At first, many teachers did visit each other’s classrooms and talked informally after the observations. However, after 2 months, some teachers began coming to Ms. Mendez to share that the process was not working. These teachers felt they were the only ones going to classrooms to observe and that they could not find anyone to come to their rooms in return. Additionally, Ms. Mendez discovered that some teachers would sit in during only part of a lesson (sometimes interrupting class as they came in late or left early) and then afterward simply state, “good lesson” or “interesting lesson,” without providing any suggestions, ideas, or questions that might deepen practice. She was also aware that five teachers in particular did not conduct any observations or make their rooms available for observation (citing a test, a review day, or simply “not a good day” as their reason). In addition to the challenges of getting all teachers to participate in the peer observations, a few teachers spoke to Ms. Mendez about their discomfort and anger at what they were seeing in their colleagues’ classrooms. They described practices based solely on worksheets that provided little opportunity for complex thinking. Also, when critical issues, specifically related to racial discrimination, came up in discussions, the particular stance on the part of the teachers was disturbing due to their lack of willingness to hear students’ points of view or easily dismissing them. Even more upsetting were the reports of how teacher interactions with their students indicated a high level of disrespect, had racist overtones, and demonstrated views of students as lacking the ability to succeed academically. Ms. Mendez did not have to just hear from other teachers. Even before her colleagues began speaking with her about their frustrations over what they were noticing, her observations prompted serious concerns of her own. The following are a few examples of what Ms. Mendez and others observed. Before visiting Ms. Holloway’s third period, she mentioned to Ms. Mendez that she was looking forward to doing a lesson on the recent Ferguson case.2 Ms. Holloway felt that students could benefit from discussing the recent tensions between Black communities and law enforcement. Ms. Mendez viewed this as an important lesson, one in which students could find the space to voice their frustration, fears, and questions surrounding these events, as well as a space where they could talk about their own experiences in their neighborhood. She was excited to see the discussion unfold. During that actual lesson however, Ms. Holloway did not provide an open forum for discussion and her main point to students was that violence was not a solution to the tensions being discussed and that all sides of the matter had to be taken into account. When students shared their experiences of violence toward them and were adamant about their belief that violence was one of the solutions in some cases, Ms. Holloway quickly dismissed them and again pushed her own view as the right one. She also refused to discuss the fact that this incident was largely connected to race and power issues, suggesting that oftentimes, Black adolescents do things that get them in trouble. After class, Ms. Holloway confided that the lesson did not go as well as expected because “they just don’t want to think rationally about this.” Ms. Mendez asked about some of the insightful statements students made during the discussion. Specifically, she asked about the exchange between Ms. Holloway and Tanya, a student whose retort pointed to the irony of preaching that the Black community should be nonviolent when others are violent toward the Black community. In that particular exchange, Ms. Holloway, in trying to convince students about how people should act in nonviolent ways, had asked, “But what about Martin Luther King’s nonviolent approach?” Tanya solemnly responded, “He got shot.” Ms. Holloway dismissed the insights and claimed students were simply lashing out and not wanting to be in a discussion that forced them to think about how all parties had responsibilities in what was happening and that adding to the violence would not solve anything. In another lesson that Ms. Mendez observed, Mr. Conway was beginning the novel To Kill a Mockingbird. One student, Will, objected to reading the book, stating that he had read it previously and that teaching this book only “taught people that White folks can kill Black folks and get away with it.” Mr. Conway ignored the student’s comment and instructed the class to begin reading the text silently, without providing any understanding of the historical context or objectives for reading the novel. Later, Ms. Mendez asked Mr. Conway why he did not take the opportunity to discuss the racial tensions and violence described in the book and the importance of rereading novels. He defensively responded that Will was simply complaining and making remarks without ever actually having read the book and that he only critiqued the novel as an excuse not to read or do homework during the next 6 weeks, the length of the unit that included the novel. Ms. Mendez also heard from a fellow teacher about a boy in Ms. Finley’s class who seemed to be physically removed from all the other students and who rarely got called on to contribute despite his hand being constantly up. Ms. Finley explained that he repeatedly was talking to other students, walking around, and saying aloud that the class was boring, and generally trying to interrupt the lesson. However, the observer noticed that when the student was called to respond the teacher would dismiss his responses with offensive remarks. For example, at one point the student remarked that the poem they were reading reminded him of a painting at a museum. The teacher stopped the class to loudly ask, “Really? You’ve been to a museum? Are you sure you aren’t thinking of a commercial or video game?” When the observer asked Ms. Finley how she tried to engage the student in the class, she stated, “I ignore him most of the time; he is not too bright.” Ms. Mendez was mindful of how racism and deficit thinking was manifested in the ways Black and Latino students were routinely mistrusted (“He did not read the book before; He won’t do any work”), their ability was doubted (“Can’t do more than the basics”), and were categorized as lazy and unmotivated (“They don’t want to put forth effort; They don’t want to learn”). Similarly, students’ communities and families were often summed up in phrases such as, “These kids have no one who cares about their education at home. I can only do so much.” As Mrs. Lorde confided in Ms. Mendez after a staff meeting, “These kids are not taught any manners at home, have no interest in learning, and just don’t want to do anything.” The discourse about students in the teacher’s lounge and in staff meetings was frequently of this nature and several teachers from most departments shared these views. Based on the feedback from teachers and her own observations, Ms. Mendez realized that these issues were largely due to a disconnect between White teachers and their Black and Latino students. At CHS, the faculty was mostly White (71%) while the student body was 91% Black and Latina/o combined. Such disconnect manifested in systemic racism and deficit thinking and pervaded many of the observed teachers’ practices (Bartolome, 2004). Although research (Irvine, 1990; LadsonBillings, 1991; Oates, 2003; Villegas & Irvine, 2010) indicates that teachers of color tend to have higher expectations for students of color than their White counterparts, Ms. Mendez noted that some teachers of color also had low expectations for students and created busy work for them instead of engaging them in meaningful academic tasks and discussions. Check-In Visit With Administration During her check-in visit with administration, Ms. Mendez explained that while she was already aware of this undercurrent at her school, she was nonetheless shocked to learn how pervasive the disrespect for students and irrelevant the lessons and ways of teaching really were. She explained and provided examples of how teachers’ lessons seemed to intentionally ignore the lives of their students by not allowing for critical discussions of complex issues that mattered to their community. Ms. Mendez also shared that negative talk about students was pervasive beyond the English Department and was often mired in deficit views of student knowledge, language, and culture. As Ms. Mendez raised these issues, they were regarded differently by the three administrators. Dr. Hill quickly dismissed the issues Ms. Mendez raised, suggesting the school had “difficult students” and “good teachers.” Mr. Lewis shifted the conversation to how observations might be ways to “ensure” that teachers prepare students for the yearly standardized tests. Mrs. Yarell, the principal, then shifted the conversation back to what Ms. Mendez’s initiative had uncovered. She and Ms. Mendez agreed that this would require serious focus by the principal and assistant principals in helping teachers interrogate their ideological beliefs and related practices about teaching in urban communities. This would also require intense, focused, professional development and support of teachers to be culturally sensitive and see the importance of cultural relevance in their pedagogy. Ms. Yarell also emphasized her strong support in working with Ms. Mendez and other department chairs in shifting both the practices and beliefs about the students in her new school.
Purchase answer to see full attachment
User generated content is uploaded by users for the purposes of learning and should be used following Studypool's honor code & terms of service.

Explanation & Answer



Case Needs to Summarize
Institutional Affiliation:



Case Needs to Summarize

The case involves a high school, City high school, which has been popularly known for
its political dynamics and poor student performance. The school is mainly made up of black
students who constitute a signi...

I use Studypool every time I need help studying, and it never disappoints.


Related Tags