Creating a culture of academic success in an urban science and math magnet high school



This paper reports on a 3-year study of a half-day urban magnet high school founded upon a desire to provide rigorous science, math, and technology experiences to students who would not otherwise have access to such educational opportunities. Using the theoretical lens of how a model of an educated person gets culturally produced within the school setting, I attended to: (1) the institutional construction of preferred student identity, (2) ways in which students in the school both took up and transformed this identity, and (3) how these student initiatives played a role in gradual institutional shifts in student expectations. Four constructs—learning, achievement, resistance, and success—were found to play significant roles in how the qualities of an educated person were negotiated through practice in attempts to create a culture of academic success in science and mathematics. These findings have implications for teaching and learning in other urban school settings. © 2005 Wiley Periodicals, Inc. Sci Ed, 89:392–417, 2005