National Institute on Student Achievement, Curriculum, and Assessment
Office of Educational Research and Improvement
U.S. Department of Education
The Case Study Project is a component of the Third International Mathematics and Science Study (TIMSS), and this volume - The Educational System in the United States: Case Study Findings - is one of five publications in the Case Study Project. The Project was designed to provide in-depth information on education in three nations: Germany, Japan, and the United States. The four research topics which were the focus of the case studies in each of these countries were selected by the U.S. Department of Education in an effort to collect qualitative data which would complement and amplify the quantitative information obtained through the main Third International Mathematics and Science Study. The topics investigated in the Case Study Project were: education standards, dealing with differences in ability, the place of school in adolescents' lives, and the training and working conditions of teachers.
The purpose in conducting the case studies was to describe the education processes that exist in a sample of cities in each of the three countries. The goal was to select research sites that were as comparable as possible among the three countries in terms of such factors as size, geographic distribution, and economic base. The primary sites where most of the data were collected were large metropolitan areas with populations of several million persons, while the secondary sites had populations of at least several hundred thousand. Within each site an effort was made to select a range of primary and secondary schools that represented successful, average, and less successful schools, in terms of such indices as scores on achievement tests, scores on college or high school entrance tests, and percentages of students entering colleges or universities. In the United States, researchers conducted over 542 hours of interviews with 271 persons.
The landscape of education in the United States is characterized by diversity. This includes diversity in the socioeconomic backgrounds of students, curricula, types of programs, size of classes, and resources available to schools. Diversity was evident in the actual practices and resources among the schools in the three locations.
The authors try in this volume not to concentrate on these types of diversity but to focus on typical public schools in the United States at three levels: elementary, junior high, and senior high. The challenge has been to provide a composite profile of typical schools. The findings that emerged from the interviews and observations allow the authors to attempt to draw such profiles.
******************************************** * Jerry P. Becker Dept. of Curriculum & Instruction Southern Illinois University Carbondale, IL 62901-4610 USA Fax: (618)453-4244 Phone: (618)453-4241 (office) E-mail: firstname.lastname@example.org