ERIC Number: ED422436
Record Type: Non-Journal
Publication Date: 1998
Reference Count: N/A
The Challenge of Detracking: Finding the Balance between Excellence and Equity.
Lockwood, John H.; Cleveland, Ella F.
This paper discusses finding a balance for the use of tracking in school that benefits both high and low achieving students. Tracking can arguably be traced to the pervasive mythology of biological determinism and the advent of IQ testing. As time passed, schools increased the use of testing to separate students into different ability levels, but this practice has come under considerable criticism. In 1985 J. Oakes published "Keeping Track," a scathing condemnation of tracking that clarifies why tracking interferes with a quality education for all students. How to achieve excellence and equity is the dilemma for educators today. Oakes has posited that it is possible to achieve both while eliminating tracking and ability grouping. Research on the prevalence and influence of tracking has shown that students are often placed in classes by racial and ethnic subgroups. In addition, data such as that from the National Education Longitudinal Study of 1988 has indicated that there is a strong correlation between socioeconomic status and academic track as well as between race/ethnicity and track. There are indeed strong arguments to do away with tracking altogether, but some ability grouping may be advantageous. Detracking could involve grouping students by specific learning tasks, with attention to avoiding biases and traditional stereotypes. The efforts of Massachusetts to eliminate the general track show that excellence and equity can be brought into better balance with systemic change involving many aspects of education. Other areas, including Milwaukee (Wisconsin), have used the EQUITY 2000 program to deal with mathematics and science education through counseling, community, and content support for students. Given the current state of education, eliminating the improper tracking of students is essential. (Contains 8 endnotes and 37 references.) (SLD)
Publication Type: Reports - Evaluative
Education Level: N/A
Authoring Institution: N/A