From gap gazing to promising cases: Moving toward equity in urban education reform*


  • Alberto J. Rodriguez

    Corresponding author
    1. Science Education, National Institute for Science Education
    2. New Mexico State University, Department of Curriculum & Instruction, P.O. Box 30001, Las Cruces, NM 88003-8001
    • Science Education, National Institute for Science Education.
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    The National Institute for Science Education is housed at the Wisconsin Center for Education Research at the University of Wisconsin–Madison and is a collaborative effort of the College of Agricultural and Life Sciences, the School of Education, the College of Engineering, and the College of Letters and Science. This collaborative effort is also joined by the National Center for Improving Science Education, Washington, D.C. Any opinions, findings, or conclusions are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect the views of the supporting agencies.


A case analysis of the Miami-Dade Urban Systemic Initiative is presented in this article, citing this initiative as one of the sites with the greatest promise for affecting equity issues. Using a grounded-theory methodological approach, a general framework for systemic reform was developed as a tool to examine the particulars of systemic reform initiatives and their potential to impact the teaching and learning of science and mathematics in diverse school contexts. It was found that to better understand the effectiveness of systemic reform initiatives requires answering two basic questions: What is the (pedagogical and ideological) systemic conceptual clarity guiding the reform efforts? And, what is the operational approach? Once answers to these questions are found, it becomes easier to explore how key officials are implementing or not implementing other aspects of systemic reform. The article also explains why less attention should be given to student outcomes (based on standardized tests) as the main indicator of success in systemic reform. Instead, it is proposed that insights gained from studying the particulars of promising initiatives can help others stimulate systemic reform in their own contexts, especially in urban contexts, which usually have few resources and a large population of students who are traditionally underserved. © 2001 John Wiley & Sons, Inc. J Res Sci Teach 38: 1115–1129, 2001