Tracking Essay

1175 WordsMay 6, 20135 Pages
Each August students are filled with excitement about the upcoming school year. They are hoping to be in class with their current friends and possibly meet a few new friends. I remember going to school and scanning the class lists taped to the front doors looking for my name and the names of my friends. As a parent, I’ve taken my children through the same tradition and have often taken pictures of them next to the class lists as a way to document the excitement of the coming year. What I didn’t realize before was the amount of thought that goes into play in developing those lists of students. Tracking is defined by Wikipedia as “separating pupils by academic ability into groups for all subjects or certain classes and curriculum within a school. In a tracking system, the entire school population is assigned to classes according to whether the students’ overall achievement is above average, normal, or below average.” Tracking is not a new strategy or process. It has been in effect since the start of the 20th century as a means to place immigrants in appropriate class levels within schools. While tracking has been in place for more than a century now, it is still a controversial issue and has passion on both sides of the argument. Tracking should not be confused by ability grouping. Ability grouping is similar, but has a less significant impact on the student’s educational journey. Ability grouping allows teachers to group students within the same classroom for a various reasons including individual differentiation need or a desire for collaborative work among students. Tracking on the other hand takes place between grade levels and impacts the specific courses students are enrolled. “In the 1960s, sociologist Talcott Parsons analyzed school as a social system and concluded that the college selection process begins in elementary school and is

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