Jones, James D., Vanfossen, Beth E., & Ensminger, Margaret E.
Individual and Organizational Predictors of High School Track Placement
Mississippi State University
What is the importance of school characteristics in the determination of track placement?
Journal Name or Institutional Affiliation:
Sociology of Education
Vol. 68, No. 4, pp. 287-300
- School characteristics matter. Organizational and compositional characteristics of schools (school electivity, academic inclusiveness, and school SES ) affect the track placement of students.
- The effects of the school variable are significant when interacting with student level variables (ability and SES).
- School variables operate directly and through interaction with student ability and SES.
- Low electivity is associated with a greater likelihood that students will be placed in the general track rather than academic or vocational.
- The academic inclusiveness affect the initial track placement and later achievement. The higher the school SES, the more likely that students will be placed into the academic rather than the general track. In lower SES schools, students are more likely to be placed in vocational than general tracks.
- School SES interacts with student ability and SES---higher ability and higher SES students are more likely to be in the academic track.
Journal Article Empirical Research
Ability Groups, Math, Reading, Tracking, Vocabulary
Method of Analysis:
Multinomial Logistic Regression
Unit of Analysis:
- Data are from the longitudinal data file for the sophomore cohort of the Highs School and Beyond study. The data were collected in 1980 when the respondents were sophomores and in 1982, when they were seniors. In the first stage 1,100 public and private schools were sampled. In the second stage, 36 students were sampled from each school. The track placement variable came from a question in the student survey in which they were asked to describe their high school program (academic, general, or vocational). The individual variables are race, gender, 8th grade educational expectations, and grades earned by 10th grade. The family SES measure is combined of family income, parental education level, father's occupation, and a score for having 8 household items (including books, newspapers, and typewriter). Student ability is captured by test performance (math, reading, and vocabulary). The school level variables are measures of track electivity, inclusiveness, and school SES. Electivity is whether students were assigned or chose a track---measured as the proportion of students who chose their track. Inclusiveness measure is the proportion of 10th graders in the academic track. The school SES is the aggregate of student SES scores.
- DV: Track placement (academic, general, vocational)
- IV: Race, gender, 8th grade educational expectations, grades earned by 10th grade, family SES (family income, parental education level, father's occupation, and a score for having 8 household items (including books, newspapers, and typewriter), student ability (math, reading, vocab test performance; school level variabes include track electivity, inclusiveness, and school SES.