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Wet Noodle Posse | Blog

Tuesday, August 28, 2007

Educational Tracking in Middle Schools?

Tracking in middle schools, does it help or hinder our children? I ask this question as my child starts her second year of middle school as a highly motivated, high achiever who doesn’t qualify for the gifted program, so I admit I may have a bias. But as I delved into research on the matter, I’m even more confounded by the choices made by our local administrators. And I worry. As a bright child who works hard to make straight A’s and very few B’s, will my daughter continue to excel now that the administration has taken a portion of 7th graders, the best and the brightest, who were in her heterogeneous classes last year, and have now separated them from the general population?

Much of the educational research I have read over the last twenty years indicates that educational tracking does a disservice to students at all levels, has actually been shown to lower overall achievement in schools, and has been challenged in the U.S. courts as a form of discrimination under Title VI. Other research conducted on behalf of gifted children claims ability grouping is necessary in order to challenge children with high IQ’s.
I’d like to hear what our readers and contributors think about tracking.

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At 5:10 AM, Blogger MaryF said...

I don't have much middle school experience, but I'm in elementary and we're big on heterogeneous grouping. We used to separate the lowest, and those would be in smaller classes, 10-12 kids, more one on one time with the teacher. I understand that the "labelling" would be an issue, but it was so much more beneficial to the kids to have more one-on-one time with the teacher, as opposed to having to fight for attention in a class of 22.

At the opposite end of the spectrum, when a teacher spends so much time and energy working with the lower kids in the class, the smarter kids are neglected and not pushed as hard because the teacher just doesn't have the time. I had about 4-5 kids last year who I wish I could have done more with, but I was struggling to help the lower kids.

At 2:52 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

I teach the middle school children but we do not have tracking system and I feel that we are lowering our standards because we tend to "cater" to the lower group of students.


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