Dissertations, Theses, and Capstone Projects

Date of Degree


Document Type


Degree Name



Urban Education


Nicholas Michelli

Committee Members

Anthony Picciano

Deborah Shanley

Subject Categories

International and Comparative Education | Social and Philosophical Foundations of Education | Theory, Knowledge and Science


Critical paradigm theory, PISA, NAEP, paradigm shift, social theory


The purpose of this study was to deconstruct the dominant discourses shaping public education in America. To understand the ontological and genealogical roots of public education, the researcher developed a framework referred to as Critical Paradigm Theory (CPT) to examine the current education paradigm. Longitudinal data was collected from the National Center for Education Statistics (NCES) with an analysis of the Programme for International Student Assessment (PISA), Trends in International Mathematics and Science Study (TIMSS), Progress in International Reading Literacy Study (PIRLS), and the National Assessment of Educational Progress (NAEP).

Additional analysis was performed applying critical paradigm theory to a range of key historical and genealogical artifacts, with a discursive examination of the A Nation at Risk: The Imperative for Educational Reform report. A deconstruction of the more prominent discourses shaping public education shows that the current narrative is vulnerable to interrogation, exposing the myths which have coalesced and now influence education policy and theory.