Tracking and Ability Grouping in American Schools: Some Constitutional Questions
Examine from a constitutional perspective the bases on which ability grouping and tracking might be challenged as barriers to equal educational opp.
Journal Name or Institutional Affiliation:
Teacher College Record
Vol. 84, No. 4, pp. 801-819
- Students in various tracks and ability levels have substantially different educational experiences.
- Students in low tracks are less likely to have peer models of middle-class high achievers.
- Low-track classes are usually taught by the least experienced teachers in the school.
- Several characteristics and effects of ability grouping and tracking may be susceptible to legal action in relationship to the provision of equal educational opportunity. In sum, these are: the separation of students resulting in disproportionate placements of poor and minority students in low grades; the reduced educational quality in low groups; the limited access low groups have to higher education or some occupations; the stigmatization of low-track students; and the misclassification of students resulting from inappropriate or haphazard classification processes.
- The classification process that is an essential feature of tracking effects a change of status in the children involved and excludes them from particular types of educational experiences. This limited access affects not only the type and quantity of education a child receives but also his future educational and occupational opportunities.
Journal Article Review of Literature
Ability Groups, Long Term Outcomes, Tracking
Literature Review, Policy Analysis
Method of Analysis:
Unit of Analysis:
- Constitutional documents that challenge ability grouping practices in the schools using the track system.
- Previous research on ability grouping (Alexander, Cook, McDill, Kelly, etc.), law review journal articles and texts of courts cases.