Alexander, Karl, & Cook, Martha
Curricula and Coursework: A Surprise Ending to a Familiar Story
Johns Hopkins University
Why are some students placed in college tracks and others not? Why is track placement so influential?
Journal Name or Institutional Affiliation:
American Sociological Review
Vol. 47, No. 5, pp. 626-640
- Traditional academic criteria (prior coursework and grade performance) are quite influential in determining student's High School track placement.
- Curriculum's actual influence is restricted to students orientations toward post-secondary education and it apparently has little to do with the sorts of "ed-treatments" that justify curriculum differentiation in the functionalized perspective.
- Much of what is observed in High School studies of school achievement processes simply reflects achievement trajectories set in motion years earlier.
- Track placements are most repsonsive to students' academic competency, as reflected in performance on the SCAT and STEP batteries.
Journal Article Empirical Research
Academic Achievement, Achievement Gap, Curriculum, Outcomes, Tracking
Secondary Survey Data
Method of Analysis:
Structural Equation Modeling
Three highly urbanized districts across the US
Unit of Analysis:
- This is an extension of the Alexander, Cook and McDill model structural equation model of curriculum processes. It consider coursework taken and marks received during the ninth, eleventh and twelfth grades. Information from grades eleven and twelve about possible mediators of tracking effects. Information of frequency of discussion with teachers and counselors.
- 1961-1969 for the Study of Academic Prediction and Growth conducted by the Educational Testing Service..
- Communities that participated in the Growth Study. This study focuses on the three highly urbanized districts in the Growth study sample.
- 27 High Schools in 17 communities and 5th, 7th and 9th grades in elementary and junior high feeder schools.
- Resurveyed at least 2 years during period 1961-1969
- Control variables: student background characteristics, variables of all noncoursework, non GPA determinants of track placement.
- DV: Curriculum placement.
- IV: Background data & control variables (father & mother education, ability, sex, race, curriculum plans, achievement, educational plans, time on homework, ed/voc talk teachers, ed/voc counselors, peers' college plans, mothers' encouragement, father's encouragement, grade point average, academic track, coursework indicators ), senior year outcomes (educational plans, applied to a college, achievement (math & verbal), GPA, English achievement, American history achievement.