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First Teachers: In Praise of tracking

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posted on Jul, 23 2010 @ 10:06 AM

First Teachers: In Praise of tracking

F. K. writes to express his opinion on the question of grouping students according to their academic abilities and achievement lev­el, what is commonly called “ tracking.” Schools that operate a tracking system will establish honors level courses, college prep courses, and what are often called “ gener­al” or “basic” level courses for students with lower academic abilities, as reflected in their coursework and on standardized tests. The system is most often used at the middle school and high school level.
(visit the link for the full news article)

posted on Jul, 23 2010 @ 10:06 AM
I had never heard of this method called "Tracking", but it seems to make a lot of sense. I wonder how and when this might happen. Probably never, at least in the public school system.

The whole idea of egalitarian teaching is not good. It may seem unfair, but in reality it is not fair to the students who are there to learn and do their work, not to have the teacher being constantly interrupted by dealing with behavior problems.
(visit the link for the full news article)

posted on Jul, 23 2010 @ 10:18 AM
reply to post by Starbug3MY

When I was in junior high(grades 7-9) 16 years ago my age group was split into groups just like the article says. I was in 7a and all the smart kids with averages of 85% an up were in 7a. 7d is just like it sounds, all the kids got d's and were the trouble makers. I didn't have a problem with it, as a poster already said why should the kids willing to learn and listen have their education affected by the kids who are only there to cause trouble and disrupt classes.

[edit on 23-7-2010 by FreeSpeaker]

posted on Jul, 23 2010 @ 10:20 AM

Originally posted by Starbug3MY

I had never heard of this method called "Tracking", but it seems to make a lot of sense. I wonder how and when this might happen. Probably never, at least in the public school system.

The whole idea of egalitarian teaching is not good. It may seem unfair, but in reality it is not fair to the students who are there to learn and do their work, not to have the teacher being constantly interrupted by dealing with behavior problems.
(visit the link for the full news article)

Well shows how much you looked into something before spouting off your mouth speaking as if you are assured as to the nature and effectiveness of this system.

Firstly, it is used. A lot. My school had it. Most schools in my state had this.

You had honor classes which had college credits with them. Then you had classes that moved at a quicker speed than most. Then your regular classes. Then your "dumb dumb" classes.

The honor classes were effectively impossible to gain the credit in and cost extra money. They are essentially meaningless because of how classes are scheduled. You simply don't learn anything in just a hour, even if it's a hour every day.

The college prep classes were generally okay but we often fell behind anyways.

The regular classes are a complete joke. What I would learn in TWO YEARS of math courses I learned in a single semester in college.

And well, dumb dumb classes are just that.

The entire education system is completely broken and ineffective. People don't learn anything anymore. They memorize stuff for tests. That's it.

posted on Jul, 23 2010 @ 10:30 AM
reply to post by SpectreDC

I did not know that this was happening currently. I thought it was sort of a new idea. Is it a state implementation in each state, or is in the county schools systems?

[edit on 23-7-2010 by Starbug3MY]

posted on Jul, 23 2010 @ 10:35 AM
So your a smart yet immature kid and get labeled a "dum-dum" I guess you just get to live with the stigma of being young while still a kid. I know plenty of "troublemakers" who have grown up and gone on to great lives. I wonder if future kids will have this opportunity to be a kid without penalty or if we are headed the way of the Japanese and stress our kids to suicide over grades?
BTW aren't the SAT's supposed to "track" you once in higher education?
Divide and pigeonhole is what I see more than anything else.

posted on Jul, 23 2010 @ 11:05 AM
reply to post by N.of norml

I was an education major in college and did two papers on this subject . . . almost 15 yrs ago. I didn't end up going into the field after graduation, so I will admit to not keeping up with this subject; however at the time, it was a "hot button" subject. And Arizona, where I grew up, tracked students as far back as my beginning (1979).

What I, and most researchers at the time, found was that it does lead to producing "self-fulfilling" prophecies and stigmatizing kids. A lot of systems will start tracking in elementary schools and for kids that get kicked down to "remedial" level it is hard, if not impossible, to move up tracks. If they excel in "remedial" track, its simply seen as evidence they are where they should be. Conversely, a kid that is placed in the "accelerated" track may not progress as needed and place his future academic career (university) in jeopardy.

Bottom line, no credible research done showed tracking to have much value beside boosting the ego of kids placed in "accelerated" tracks. In fact, schools that did not track and required the same output from all students show that all students will rise or fall to the expectations placed on them, whether they are considered "dumb" or "smart".

Kids tend to become what we tell them they are . . . especially when it's repeated over and over . . . year after year.

Now, there are those few exceptions . . . the exceptionally bright or those with learning disabilities that should be moved up or down. However, this is always a very small segment of the population and not a legitmate reason for tracking the general school population.

The thing that always angered me, when looking into this issue, is it seems school systems prefer this mode of operating despite the research on this subject. You establish an intellectual class at the earliest ages and can focus on the best and brightest, while demonizing the "normal" kids. Resources are reserved for the accelerated kids (field trips, computer labs, etc.), while the normal kids get to sit in class and do work that is trully beneath them . . . in order, to keep those standardized scores and funding at the level they should be.

Man . . . I wish I could find those old papers . . . I'd post them to give you a true picture of the damage that can be done to a child's development by being placed in the wrong track and forgot about.


EDIT - grammar

[edit on 7/23/10 by solomons path]

posted on Jul, 23 2010 @ 11:18 AM
Meh. So now it has a name.

I graduated high school over 30 years ago, and we had this going on.

From a student's perspective I welcomed being in the accelerated classes I was placed into because they were more tailored to my speed and level. Being mixed in with everyone in other classes most often bored me to tears.

Not to say there aren't some benefits to hearing something multiple times in a mixed can always catch something new and learn from the constant repetition and slowing down that is necessary for people who are not quite as fast as grasping concepts or facts.

But you really can get really bored if the class is being constantly slowed down, and also you can then miss new things if you're off daydreaming when the class does get back on track.

And on the flip-side, people can really get left behind if the class is moving too fast for them.

The benefits to teaches of partitioning the classes is that they do can focus and be more effective while not worrying about

As for the common misconceptions and misinterpretation that being in "accelerated" or "slow" classes makes someone more or less special rather than simply different, maybe the way to fix this is just to rename or even not name the different classes and make it perfectly clear that this is more related to the way people learn than their worth. Thing is, people always figure out what's what anyway and then assign their misconceptions and misinterpretions to it all over again, no matter how untrue that may be or how it is presented.

posted on Jul, 23 2010 @ 11:20 AM
No Sir or Madam,
This is not a new practice by any means. When I attended middle/high school this practice was in full swing. Though here in the state where I went to school once entering into high school one had the option of choosing which "course" they wished to pursue whether it be "vocational" "college prep" or "honors". Though to enter into the honors course one had to have been invited by a council of the teachers who felt that the student would be challenged and would benefit from said courses. I chose the "college prep" courses and was invited several times to join the "honor" students. I did reject these offers to the consternation of the teachers who had invited me. I was also somewhat of a class clown. Nothing overly disruptive, just the right amount of humor and deprecation to remind the students and teachers that we were still kids after all. In fact one of the history teachers rather enjoyed the witty reparte, and would indeed encourage it at what would be considered stressful times, preparing for tests, exit exams and SAT preparation testing weeks. Ahh I loved that teacher! She truly did have a great impact on my life. Almost as much as my fourth grade teacher Mrs. Abel, she insisted on teaching me calligraphic writing after school in an attempt to help improve my poor hand writing skills. My hand writing at the time was quite atrocious, I told her I wanted to be a doctor when I grew up and was practicing writing reports and scrips already

But yes this practice has been going on for quite awhile. I attribute this system to being the only thing that has kept our educational system from degenerating into the worst possible version of itself, even worse than it is today.

posted on Jul, 23 2010 @ 11:20 AM
reply to post by ~Lucidity

P.S. What would be more interesting to me would be the correlation of what happens to all the self-fulfilling prophecy and worth theories in a "teacherless" that the same subset of students take online, where they self-pace and determine their path themselves, without external judgments or influences. But we're not quite there yet.

[edit on 7/23/2010 by ~Lucidity]

posted on Jul, 23 2010 @ 11:26 AM
That's the way it was back in the 1960s.

In my pretty large junior high school you were grouped by ability. You could move up or down depending upon how you achieved within your group.

As I moved into high school this continued.

At one point I protested because I got a B in an honors English class. I was dropped down to the next lower level. I didn't have to study, I was somewhat disruptive in class and after I read my first essay out loud at the teachers request, I was once again placed into the honors class.

Grouping people by ability makes sense. You can only learn as fast as the "average" student in a class.

The main reason that they moved away from grouping by ability was that the top groups didn't have enough underrepresented minorities and in our politically correct world, you just cannot allow that to happen.

posted on Jul, 23 2010 @ 11:27 AM
reply to post by solomons path

Thank you kindly for the information. I did not realize what the long-term consequences could be.

IMO home schooling that networks with other home schooling families is the very best way to go if you can

posted on Jul, 23 2010 @ 11:43 AM
reply to post by ~Lucidity

To clarify . . . The term "tracking" is not a new name for the practice, it's always been called that.

Unfortunately, children are not static in their development and tracking is usually a permanent assignment. Schools do not evaluate students on a yearly basis. It's been shown through MRI scans that the human brain isn't fully developed until well into adolecence and this fact alone should point to indivduals developing at different rates based on everthing from living environment to diet.

While anyone can recal personal experience and state "yeah, I didn't like having to slow down for the slower kids", that was really more evidence for the limitations of the teacher you had. There are many ways a teacher can give extra attention to those slower without stopping the class. Simplist way to accomplish this is to have those who "get it" to assit those who don't. This also helps the faster kids due to the fact that a skill is truly engrained when we have to teach or explain the skill to someone else. It cause one to analyze the skill in a way they wouldn't by simply taking in the information. This phenomena really started to occur due to school funding (and now teacher's tenure) being based off of standardized testing.

As I stated above . . . kids will rise or fall based on the expectations placed on them. Furthermore, regardless of how they label the class structure, kids know if they've been placed in the slower tracks because the expectations are lowered and the teaching becomes remedial.

The benefits to a few are far outweighed by the damages to many. Besides, we are talking public school . . . everyone should be awarded the same opportunities for knowledge and advancement. It's the teacher's job to convey this knowledge, but many of them don't know how when confronted with a group of kids that all have different learning styles and upbringings.

posted on Jul, 23 2010 @ 12:03 PM
It reeks of Brave New World organized society and social engineering.

There are always the Gifted classes, as my teachers recommended for me, for brighter or more "restless" yet brainy kids who get bored with the average pace. Unfortunately, we moved and I was not evaluated at the new school and made the first bad grades of my life, got tracked by those grades and didn't re-emerge until high school, where I aced the ASVAB and made a 28 on my ACT, with a 32 in Natural Sciences.

Lol, our valedictorian, a friend of mine from the Honors or Advanced classes, made a 27.

I get sick of ANY child being considered "lower" anything. They are not fixed in place and deserve all the opportunities we can muster up for them.

The way they are treated six to eight hours a day, as mandated by law, has a greater long term effect on them than what we start them off with.

Your bright and cheerful child will be bullied and unprotected. Sad but true.

Your bright but quiet child will be overlooked. Also probably bullied and unprotected.

Your rowdy child will be ordered on to medication. You will be investigated or your child expelled until the meds are in place. He or she will always be flagged by behavior rather than potential or individual talents or skills.

It has to stop. Please, contact state boards of education, they are where the real power is. Let them know you have already contacted your local whoever, news station, PTA, whoever it is that is relevant to your school's issues, as many as you can think of who could or should be involved.

Public scrutiny and in-house policing work wonders, believe me.

In our state, at least, there are choices in curriculum, for example, and options for schools. Things are the way they are because that is what is easiest for the school.

If parenting worked that way, we wouldn't have to worry about education much longer anyway.

Teachers have to be confronted and held accountable. I just saw a story on CNN saying there is a push for more black, male teachers.

Darn right there are....why else do they get marginalized out of these jobs and other professional lives they could be having, when we need everyone to do what they can, so much.

I was highly encouraged to see that some of the ones in charge are seeing the light and speaking up boldly to turn this next great corner.

Tracking has affected so many of them, as well. It's time to abolish this Communist approach to child development, no offense to any Socialists out there, lol.

But we know that child development doesn't stop at the school door, and 12 years is a very long time to get and keep getting the impression that you are a loser, with the rest of your life stretched out before you, knowing or suspecting that it might be true.

How is anyone supposed to stand up and do anything in a world like that?

We have to stop this kind of schizophrenic social manipulation. After all, most teachers who are making these decisions and affecting the kids' performance on a day-to-day basis are not experts on intelligence or potential evaluation.

Who the heck is??? We don't need the option of losing anything these young people have to offer now, or in the future!!

Don't be afraid to go over the heads of the locals, and straight to the state school board if you have problems or fear retribution or anything like that at your school or your child's school, whatever the case may be.

posted on Jul, 23 2010 @ 12:10 PM
reply to post by solomons path

Oh, okay. They called it different things when I was studying this in college, and I don't recall whether or not tracking was one of them.

They tested and assessed us every year before placement. They also changed people in mid-year in some cases. It was not a given that just because you may have been in accelerated or remedical one year you automatically were placed there the next.

I think the damage comes from outside influences and judgment and people's sense of competition, and not the practice itself.

One major difference I see today is that in my time, parents didn't get involved. Today, parent's are there banging at the door when their child gets placed low, and parents whose child gets places high brag.

Maybe this makes some difference or more difference in both perceptions of this program and the feelings of inflated worth or shame. These perceptions are probably for the most part not coming from the schools, the teachers, or even the students themselves.

posted on Jul, 23 2010 @ 12:56 PM
They had this sort of thing when I was in school back in the days that are getting harder to remember. I was in the upper-level, but I didn't excel in it because I liked to screw off a bit. I think they called it tracking then, too.

I don't have anything against it, necessarily, as long as teachers take a hands-on approach to determining the criteria for categorizing kids. What if someone is really smart but has test anxiety? Should they be in the lower track because they don't do well in a testing environment? If I were to guess about public education these days, I imagine a kid would get pigeonholed with testing and left there until graduation. If that happens.

I also think standardized testing is too left-brain weighted. At least it was when I was in school.

posted on Jul, 23 2010 @ 12:59 PM
reply to post by ~Lucidity

If you were evaluated pre-year, every year then I applaud your school system, unfortunately the vast majority of districts offer no such practice. It is usually up to the teacher to spot and recommend, so the tracks usually don't change for kids unless they are constantly at one end of the scale or the other.

And you are also right that these stigmas aren't placed on kids by the practice, but they are inherent. Human behavior dictates these stigmas. Classmates know who is in what track and treat them accordingly . . . whether it's pyshical bullying or ridicule it's based on class structure. Teachers know what track they are teaching and it's been demonstrated that this effects how they teach . . . slow kids being treated "dumb", smart kids given way too much rope, etc. Also, schools usually put the most disenchanted and unmotivated teachers in the remedial track, further hampering a child's ablities. Parents know where their kid tracked and it effects how they treat their children and interact with the school. We tell our children that we want them to "get good grades" "be successful", yet they know where they are tracked and it effects their self-image. Whether it's the "smart" kid who gets a bad grade and feels like a failure or "stupid", or the "dumb" kid that gets good grades due to the fact that he's in the "stupid" class Anyway you slice it the outcome is negative.

I have no problem with tailoring course work, as some secondary institutions do, after a particular interest and aptitude have been established.

As I posted originally, I wish I still had the papers I did in college for the references, as I don't have time to search for them online right now. Everything I read, at that time, clearly showed that students that were all given the same "class" structure, motivation, curriculum developed better social skills and were more successful (better grades, test scores, jobs)going forward in life. Most of these studies spanned the course of 20 years.

I send my child to a subsidized charter school. They have one class for each grade and treat them all as "accelerated" and I couldn't be happier with his development, to this point. Now is it the system, his parents, or himself that is most responsible for his success . . . ??? To be honest, I'm selfish and as long as he seems to be interested, challenged and he his competing for the highest scores . . . I'm happy. I'll leave every other child's parents to make their own decisions as to their preference of educational style. The reality today is that the public school system requires teachers to be "managers" and not "leaders", so kids get thrown in and spit out.

[edit on 7/23/10 by solomons path]

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