ERIC Number: ED322642
Record Type: RIE
Publication Date: 1990-Jun
Academic Tracking: Report of the NEA Executive Committee/Subcommittee on Academic Tracking.
National Education Association, Washington, DC.
Academic tracking, one of the most enduring and controversial educational practices, is directly implicated as a link among education, future technical/occupational skill, and the welfare of the U.S. national economy. Tracking's most controversial feature is the potentially harmful effects of bad placement decisions based on such nonacademic criteria as low parental income, race, ethnicity, gender, and special needs. The problem is exacerbated by the rapid displacement of unskilled industrial jobs and a growing demand only for workers having high academic skills. This report outlines the results of an extensive inquiry into the tracking system and presents conclusions and recommendations. Research activities and procedures developed by the National Education Association (NEA) generated a comprehensive analysis of academic tracking. Tracking was found to be very common, becoming more typical during each subsequent school grade. At some point, virtually all students are ability grouped or tracked. Students from diverse ethnic groups are tracked into different classes and curricula. Hispanic and Black students are overrepresented in vocational education and underrepresented in academic tracks. Findings concerning benefits and the role of educational "gatekeepers" are also discussed, along with alternatives to tracking such as the U.S. Department of Education's Regular Education Initiative (REI). Rigid academic tracking creates problems for many students from all socioeconomic and ethnic groups and also creates student isolation by socioeconomic status and ethnicity. Further conclusions and recommendations are discussed. A chronological review of NEA tracking research and a glossary are included. (35 references) (MLH)
Descriptors: Ability Grouping, Education Work Relationship, Elementary Secondary Education, Equal Education, Grouping (Instructional Purposes), Linking Agents, Socioeconomic Influences, Student Placement, Track System (Education)
Publications, National Education Association, Instruction and Professional Development, 1201 Sixteenth Street, N.W., Washington, DC 20036 (free).
Publication Type: Reports - Evaluative
Education Level: N/A
Authoring Institution: National Education Association, Washington, DC.