Caughlan, Samantha, & Kelly, Sean
Bridging Methodological Gaps: Instructional and Institutional Effects of Tracking in Two English Classes
Michigan State University; University of Wisconsin at Madison
Analyzes instructional and institutional effects of tracking in high and low track English classes
Journal Name or Institutional Affiliation:
Research in the Teaching of English
Vol. 39, No. 1, pp. 20-62
- The high track class achieved more and the low track class achieved less than was expected.
- Quantitative analysis found differences in instruction account for differences in achievement growth between the two tracks.
- The CLASS program found evidence of dialogic instruction in both classes. There was more discussion in the high track class and greater coherence.
- Discourse analysis better explained classroom process.
- Cultural models are important. The teacher's cultural models of her students affected the level of instruction, the selection of texts, methods, and coherence of the curriculum.
- Understanding of cultural model may shed light on why tracking does not result in optimal achievement growth for all students.
Journal Article Empirical Research
Academic Achievement, Curriculum, English, Tracking
Participant observation, Survey
Method of Analysis:
Unit of Analysis:
- The data are from a large, national study (1999-2000) of literary instruction in middle and high schools by the National Research Center on English Learning and Achievement (CELA). 64 low, regular, high, and mixed ability classrooms in 19 schools and 5 states were studied. This analysis focuses on two American lit classes (high track and low track) taught by the same teacher in a suburban TX high school. The school student body is 48% White, 38% Black, 9% Hispanic and 5% Asian. 8% of the students receive FRL. Two 11th grade classes are studied. 26 students are in the high track class (19 Whites, 6 Blacks, and 1 Hispanic). 14 students in the low track class (5 White, 6 Black, and 3 Hispanics). Student social class is measured on home resources scale up to 11. High track class ave is 9.88; low track class ave is 8.62. Achievement was measured using writing assessments. Students' essays were rated for level of abstraction, coherence and elaboration of argument, and proficiency. The CLASS (Classroom Language Assessment System) data collection program was used for the quantitative analysis of classroom instruction and interaction. CLASS generated two sets of variables: question variables and the amount of time spent in discussion and other classroom activities. The qualitative analysis included interviews with the teacher about goals and curricula for each class, and characterizations of students in each class. Observation was also conducted in the classroom (audio taping, recording in field notes, and some transcription).
- DV: Achievement growth (measured as deviation from predicted achievement) ability to draw connections between texts, time spend "linking literature to life"
- IV: Track level (i.e., gifted and talented/AP, regular)