Date of Award


Document Type

Doctoral Dissertation

Degree Name

Education, Ed.D.



First Advisor

Eric Anctil

LC Subjects

Catholic high schools--Case Studies; Catholic high schools--Administration


Since 1965, over 7,000 Catholic schools have closed in the United States. This phenomenon is referred to by both Catholic and secular news agencies as, “The Catholic School Crisis.” The crisis is in part due to the marketization of education in the United States which has created a competitive economic market between all types of schools. In a market-driven culture, schools compete for students and funds the same way businesses compete for customers and dollars. This multiple-case study investigated how leaders within select Catholic high schools understand and communicate their institutional identity within a market context and how that identity can be observed to be influenced by market forces. In aggregate, twenty semistructured interviews, four school walkabouts, and thirty documents/artifacts were collected for this study. Key findings revealed that religious charisms are essential to institutional identity and that Catholic high schools identify as inclusive faith-based communities. However, data also evidenced that Catholic high schools shift their practices and discourse to accommodate the market even if such practices and discourse are antithetical to their mission. Importantly, this study also found that Catholic high schools also shift their practices and discourse to align and realign with their religious mission, highlighting a continuous tension between mission and market.


Copyright for this work is retained by the author.