Hallinan, Maureen T.
Track Mobility in Secondary School
University of Notre Dame
Examines the frequency of track mobility and the direction of change in track assignments over students' four year high school careers.
Journal Name or Institutional Affiliation:
Vol. 74, No. 3, pp. 983-1002
- Data reveals a considerable amount of track mobility during high school.
- In mathematics, 7% finish high school at a higher track and 4% at a lower track than they started, while 64% drop tracked mathematics.
- Data refute the claim that tracking locks students into a track level at the beginning of high school and precludes subsequent change.
- Students tend to move to a higher or lower track after a specific course has been completed rather than while it is in progress, thereby minimizing disruption of instruction.
- A pattern in timing of track mobility is that more change occurs later in students' high school careers than earlier.
- The short term nature of most of these tracks changes suggests that students are exploring different track levels but finding that their initial placement was appropriate.
- In mathematics, the model shows that females are less likely to move to a higher mathematics track than males.
- Strong performance leads to upward track mobility. Weak performance predicts downward track mobility.
- Student background, ability, and achievement affect track mobility.
- Females, older students, and low-SES students are more likely to drop mathematics than their peers.
- Lower grades and test scores are the strongest predictors of both moving to a lower track and dropping a tracked subject.
- Mobility is not being used in a systematic way by the schools to increase track homogeneity. Mainly, because of student choice and their track selection and change.
Journal Article Empirical Research
Ability Groups, English, High School, Math, Middle School, Tracking
Method of Analysis:
7th Grade Students
Unit of Analysis:
- Results based on two cohorts of students who attended one of the six public schools or the one catholic high school in the sample.
- Information collected on the tracking structures and policies of the highs schools in the sample.
- Number and size of tracks, track composition with respect to gender, race, ethnicity, and academic ability, and criteria for assigning students to tracks.
- DV: Track mobility
- IV: Gender, race, socioeconomic status, achievement, etc.