Hallinan, Maureen T.
School Differences in Tracking Effects on Achievement
University of Notre Dame
Whether tracking students for instruction can have a differential effect on student achievement across schools.
Journal Name or Institutional Affiliation:
Vol. 72, No. 3, pp. 99-820
- Track placement is influenced by characteristics of a school's track structure, by assignment criteria, by flexibility of track membership, and by a school's scheduling priorities.
- School differences occur in the number, size, and ability composition of track structures; these differences affect the likelihood of a student's being assigned to a particular track.
- Background affects placement in a unique way in each school, likely reflecting a constellation of within school factors influencing placement decisions.
- Findings provides evidence of school differences in tracking practices.
- Schools differ in the likelihood of assigning a student to a particular track level.
- The stronger the association between track assignment and student outcomes, the greater the importance and impact of school differences in placement practices.
- Observed differences across schools in the quantity and quality of instruction illustrate how schools vary in the opportunities for learning that they provide to students within tracks.
- Ninth grade track placement has a statistically significant effect on students' growth in achievement.
- Tracking is a more effective pedagogical device in some schools than in others for certain categories of students in certain subject areas.
- Findings demonstrate that assignment to a higher track generally increases rate of learning, and that track effects are stronger in some schools than others. Thus, the practice of tracking is more inequitable in some schools than in others.
- Student's abilities and interests should be a primary consideration in determining what school would best advantage that student.
- Tracking information is critical to an informed decision about schools, and educators have a responsibility to make it available to the public.
Journal Article Empirical Research
Ability Groups, Academic Achievement, Elementary School, English, Math, Middle School, Tracking
Method of Analysis:
Two Midwestern Cities
Unit of Analysis:
- Longitudinal survey of tracking practices and student achievement in middle and secondary schools.
- Data from ninth grade of two cohorts. Cohort 1 contains 2,198 students who entered ninth grade in 1988. and cohort 2 contains 2,365 students entering ninth grade in 1989.
- Lots of information collected on the structure of tracking and tracking samples for the schools in the sample.
- Analysis #1
- DV: Student's ninth grade track placement in English or mathematics
- IV: Gender, race, SES, and age, dummy variable for cohort 2, absence 8 (number of times a student missed school in eight grade), student-achieved characteristics (test scores in English and math, grades in eighth grade English and math, eight grade track in English, eight grade track in mathematics
- Analysis #2
- DV: Student's percentile on the ISTEP examination in English or mathematics
- IV: Gender, race, SES, age, cohort 2, track, dummy indicating individual school, track interactions
- Variables: number and size of tracks in each school, the ability, ethnic, and gender composition of the tracks, the criteria for assigning students to tracks, and changes in track assignments over the school year.
- Background information: gender, race, age and free-lunch status, student's grade from eight grade and standardized achievement test score in English and Math, based on the Indiana Student Test of Educational Progress (ISTEP).
- Dependent Variables: student's ninth grade track placement in English or mathematics, and student's percentile on the ISTEP examination in English or math.