The Tracking and Ability Grouping Debate
What have we actually learned about tracking and ability grouping?
Journal Name or Institutional Affiliation:
Thomas B. Fordham Foundation
- Article addresses the debate about tracking and ability grouping. Loveless finds that the indictment against tracking is not supported by research.
- Research comparing tracking and heterogeneous grouping cannot conclusively declare one method as better than the other.
- Evidence does not support the charge that tracking is inherently harmful, and there is no clear evidence that abandoning tracking for heterogeneously grouped classes would provide a better education for any student.
- Three conclusions: 1. Schools should decide policy 2. Improve tracked schools 3. Learn more about untracked schools and improve them
Ability Groups, Heterogeneous Grouping, Second-generation Segregation, Tracking
Method of Analysis:
Unit of Analysis:
- Reviews survey data about tracking practices in middle and high schools.
- Reviews meta-analyses of tracking and ability grouping by Slavin and Kulik.
- Draws on research of HSB (High School and Beyond) study of 10th graders in 1980 and NELS of 8th graders in 1989.
- Studies followed thousands of students and recorded academic achievement, courses taken and attitudes toward school.
- Transcripts were analyzed and teachers and parent interviews were conducted as part of these studies.