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ERIC Number: ED515233
Record Type: Non-Journal
Publication Date: 2009
Pages: 9
Abstractor: ERIC
Reference Count: 25
Relationship of Tracking to Content Coverage and Achievement: A Study of Eighth Grade Mathematics
Schmidt, William H.; Cogan, Leland S.; Houang, Richard T.
Society for Research on Educational Effectiveness
In this article the authors set out to examine the effect of tracking in mathematics. Previous analyses have shown it to be quite prevalent at 8th grade unlike much of the rest of the world. The US practices both between- and within-school tracking, leading to very different content coverage for different students. Without judging the merits of the instructional or other theories which led to this practice, the results presented in this paper present data as to the consequences of such a policy. Using the international grade placement (IGP) index they found statistically significant differences in content coverage across the different types of courses, especially between algebra and the other two course types. The results presented in this paper challenge the wisdom of this practice. Why should different students study different content, either as a result of being sorted within a school into different content tracks or by the de facto result of different non-tracked schools deciding what the one type of course (e.g., algebra versus regular mathematics) they will offer for all their students? The latter case also effectively tracks students into different content coverage but for students attending different schools. The effect is the same--different content coverage for different students. In light of these results, "algebra for all" in 8th grade seems more reasonable than continuing the current tracking policies which by design only exacerbate differences and as a result leave many behind. (Contains 2 endnotes.)
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Publication Type: Reports - Research
Education Level: Grade 7; Grade 8; Middle Schools
Audience: N/A
Language: English
Sponsor: N/A
Authoring Institution: Society for Research on Educational Effectiveness (SREE)