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Tracking and Ability Grouping in Schools

March 23, 2016 | Author: | Posted in education, pedagogy


Tracking and Ability Grouping in Schools

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Tracking and Ability Grouping in Schools


This is about tracking and ability grouping , the practice of grouping students of similar ability or prior achievement together for instruction . This is divided into four sections . The first defines terms , sketches the basic features of tracking and ability grouping systems . The second section traces the historical quest for reasonable ways of matching students and curriculum . The third part provides information about the relationship [banner_entry_middle]

between tracking and ability grouping and academic achievement and the last part describes the movement to eliminate tracking and ability grouping

Definition of Tracking and Ability Grouping

Thirty eight years ago , the terms ability grouping ‘ and tracking were used to identify two distinct approaches to grouping students

Ability grouping referred to the information of small , homogeneous groups within elementary school classrooms , usually for reading instruction . Children of approximately the same level of reading proficiency would be grouped for reading instruction , perhaps into redbirds ‘ and bluebirds

Tracking referred to a practice in which high schools tested students typically with both achievement and IQ tests , and used these scores to place their students into separate curricular tracks , or streams ‘ as they are called in Europe . The tracks covered distinctly different curricula , were binding across all academic subjects , and to lead to different destinations upon graduation . Three tracks were common : 1 ) a high track , with college-preparatory or honors courses that readied students for admission to top colleges and universities : 2 ) a general track that served as a catch-full for the huge group of students in the middle , those huge group of students in the middle , those neither gifted nor deficient in their studies or those simply unsure of what they would do after high school , and 3 ) a low track , consisting of vocational courses and a smattering of low-level academic offerings , such as consumer math , and serving mainly low functioning and indifferent students (Smith-Maddox and Wheelock 1995 . After graduation , general track students matriculated to second-tier colleges , community colleges or the workforce . Low track students frequently dropped out , found work or suffered periods of unemployment (Rosenbaum , 1976 . now use the terms tracking ‘ and ability grouping ‘ interchangeably . One hears , for example , that tracking begins in kindergarten ‘ In this report , I adhere to the conventional definitions employed by researchers , using ability grouping ‘ to refer to the grouping of students by ability within classes , which is primarily an elementary school practice , and tracking ‘ to refer to the grouping of students by ability between classes , a strategy common in middle and high schools

History of Tracking and Ability Grouping

By the middle of the 19th century , American schooling was coalescing into local systems stratified by grades and organized around a rational curricular system . The legendary one-room schoolhouse , which in some cases was inhabited by students from two to twenty years of age experienced a remarkable transformation . To create a more manageable clientele , age restrictions pushed infants and… [banner_entry_footer]

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