Sunday, March 9, 2008

To Track or not to Track?

The following blog comment is an exert from the PND faculty blog discussion about the merits and drawbacks of tracking. To give the context we currently track into three lanes: honors, regular, and modified. Our students in modified are identified based off of the Explore exam.

Why do we track? Is it in the best interest of our students? Do we reflect on why we do it? Should we just track for honors? Are our students in modified classes better served by being placed in regular settings and being asked to live up the expectations of the regular classroom? The answers to these questions hit at the core of our philosophy of learning. Do we see every student as able to learn, create, and grow in understanding? Or, do we fall victim of pre-judging students' ability based on their standardized test scores which have placed them in a modified or basic section?

Would Catholic High Schools be better served by placing modified students in regular classrooms? Would this lead to fewer behavior problems? Would teaching strategies have to be adopted and changed if this were to happen i.e. differentiated instruction? What does the research say?
There are pros and cons to both routes. One could argue de-tracking the modified sections would disperse the modified students evenly into various sections forcing these students to work towards the higher norm of performance in the regular setting. Behavior problems would decrease as students in modified sections are surrounded by different students in each period.

De-tracking honors would most likely be a disaster with students leaving in droves for the IB program and other accelerated programs that our competitors offer.

Below is a link to some research on the subject. If anyone has hear of or can find links to other studies about the tracking issue please post the link as well. Let the conversation start.

An Interesting Paper on the Subject

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