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ERIC Number: ED564066
Record Type: Non-Journal
Publication Date: 2013
Pages: 9
Abstractor: ERIC
Reference Count: 22
Tracking and Student Achievement: The Role of Instruction as a Mediator
Schmidt, Rebecca Anne
Society for Research on Educational Effectiveness
Most public schools and districts must face the problem of how to help low-achieving students and efficiently target resources, particularly in the face of accountability under No Child Left Behind. One policy that has been employed is grouping students into classrooms by their measured or perceived ability--a process known as tracking. Research has shown, however, that this practice disproportionately assigns minority and low-income students to low-track classes (e.g., Gamoran, 2009; Oakes, 2005) and may increase inequality between high and lowachieving students (e.g., Esposito, 1973; Gamoran, 1987; Oakes, 2005), without an average gain in student achievement in the school or district (e.g., Esposito, 1973; Gamoran, 2009; Kulik and Kulik, 1982; Slavin, 1990). This research focuses on the role of instructional quality in mathematics as a mediator between tracking and student achievement, and addresses the following research questions: (1) Are there measurable differences in instructional quality between teachers in tracked and untracked settings?; (2) Between high- and low-track classrooms?; and (3) Do these differences mediate the relationship between track level (high- versus low-track) and student achievement? This analysis uses data from the Middle school mathematics in the Institutional Setting of Teaching (MIST) project at Vanderbilt University. As a part of the MIST project, nearly 120 teachers in four districts have been videotaped during instruction for two consecutive days, and their students' achievement data has been collected. This data included the current year mathematics achievement test results as well as two prior years' scores, which were standardized to state distributions by grade and year. Demographic data were also collected, including grade level, gender, race, free/reduced-price lunch, English Language Learner and Special Education status. This analysis found only a small mediation effect of instructional quality on the relationship between track level and student achievement. This indicates that other variables are driving this relationship besides a difference in rigorous tasks and mathematical discussions. One table and one figure are appended.
Society for Research on Educational Effectiveness. 2040 Sheridan Road, Evanston, IL 60208. Tel: 202-495-0920; Fax: 202-640-4401; e-mail:; Web site:
Publication Type: Reports - Research
Education Level: Middle Schools; Secondary Education; Junior High Schools
Audience: N/A
Language: English
Sponsor: N/A
Authoring Institution: Society for Research on Educational Effectiveness (SREE)
Identifiers - Location: Tennessee