Oakes, Jeannie, & Guiton, Gretchen
Matchmaking: The Dynamics of High School Tracking Decisions
Ford Foundation; University of Colorado - Denver
Examines how educators frame tracking decisions.
Journal Name or Institutional Affiliation:
American Educational Research Journal
Vol. 32, No. 1, pp. 3-33
- The authors present seven propositions about the dynamics of tracking based on their fieldwork and transcript analysis.
- One proposition is that race, ethnicity, and social class signal ability and motivation and consequently influence curriculum decisions. The authors arrive at a conclusion that does not point to a single theoretical explanation.
- Structural, cultural, and political factors all influence tracking decisions.
- Tracking decisions result from differentiated hierarchical curriculum structures; school cultures that are alternatively committed to common schooling and accommodating differences; and political actions by individuals within those structures and cultures aimed at influencing the distribution of advantage.
Journal Article Empirical Research
College, High School, Math, Tracking
Case Studies, Interviews, Participant observation, Survey
Method of Analysis:
Three High Schools in the West Coast Urban Center
Unit of Analysis:
- Specially interested in identifying factors that contribute to the racial, ethnic, and social class patterns of curriculum participation.
- Data are collected at three high schools in adjacent communities within a major West Coast urban center.
- Data are collected via interviews with educators (principals, counselors, teachers, curriculum directors) and students and analysis of documents (student handbook, course descriptions, schedules).
- Background info and transcript data for all students who were seniors in 1987-1988 are collected.
- The sample included graduates and non-graduates.
- Data was triangulated and coded by at least two researchers.
- IV: Gender, race, date of birth, test scores, coursework, and end of high school outcomes were collected for each student.
- DV: Probability of taking college-prep math (probability of taking Algebra 2 in the 11th grade or earlier). Also probability of becoming a vocational concentrator.