Abstract In the Italian-speaking part of Switzerland a reform of the secondary school system is taking place. This reform originates from some preliminary reflection started during the ‘90ies. During the academic year 2004/2005 started the first visible transformation in school. A study on this process of change has been conducted during the years 2006 - 2012. Data from different sources of information have been collected and analyzed: public documents concerning the reform; interviews to opinion leaders and decision makers; four cases of scholastic institutes and a questionnaire administered to all the teachers belonging to the school system. Analysis of data collected and consequent results allow to confirm and up-date the initial theoretical framework; a system of detection and a grid for the analysis of the educational institutions and the school system has been produced. To use model of investigation that come from different contexts (for example institutional, national or cultural) may cause problems in evaluating different aspects of the phenomenon; the process of including field data in pre-existing theoretical framework has been explored.