Running Head: THE ROLE OF TRACKING IN AMERICAN SCHOOLS The Role of Tracking in American Schools [Name] [University] The Role of Tracking in American Schools To discuss the role of tracking in American schools, the term ‘tracking’ should first of all be explained…
He further explains that tracking may take place within a specific grade, as well as extend to grade levels. To illustrate the former, Loveless talks about eight graders who can hardly read and students who enjoy Shakespeare plays being placed in different English classes. The latter may be well illustrated by the practice of students’ assignment to math courses starting with fundamentals and ending with abstraction of calculus (Loveless, 1999, p. 1). Theoretically, the purpose of this practice is grounded on the belief that tracking promotes learning thanks to its provision of a good fit between the instruction level and needs of students regarding their learning. The tracking theory asserts that tracking allows tailoring the instruction according to students’ ability levels (Hallinan, 1999, p.79). This is thought to enhance the efficiency and effectiveness of the overall instructional process. These claims, however, have been widely criticized by opponents of tracking, who mention a number of negative effects of tracking on students’ academic, social and emotional development, thus questioning the relevance of this practice to the school setting. For example, Jenny Oakes, a professor from University of California at Los Angeles, believes that among other aspects, tracking practice is related to racial segregation in modern American school (Oakes, 1994, p.91). My goal in this paper is to discuss the role of tracking in modern American school. To achieve my goal, I have divided the essay into four parts. The first one aims at highlighting the historical background of tracking in American schools. The second section discusses the positive effects of tracking on school practice, focusing on the proponents’ views regarding this phenomenon. The third part of this paper looks into criticism of tracking by its opponents and possible negative effects tracking has on the school practice. Finally, I conclude my paper with the fourth part which sums up the role of tracking within an American school. Historical Background of Tracking The history of tracking within American school system can be traced back to the turn of the 20th century. Since that time, believes Oaks, schools have used tracking “to address social, personal, and workforce needs, as well as cognitive ones.” (Oakes, 1994, p. 86). In Rubin’s research “Detracking in Context: How Local Constructions of Ability Complicate Equity-Geared Reform”, it is stated that tracking with a variety of its modifications has been one of the major organizing practices typical for American public schools for nearly a century (Rubin, 2008). Tracking started to come into use at the beginning of the 20th century when G.Stanley Hall’s notions about the inclinations and emotional peculiarities of adolescents were taken as the theoretical ground for implementing a non-scholarly curriculum at American school. At the same time, at the outset of the previous century schools were known to enroll lots of immigrant kids.In this respect, the statement made by Lewis Terman should be mentioned that despite the fact immigrant pupils could not be expected to develop mental abilities that allowed mastering abstractions, they could be enrolled to separate classes, which might help them become well-qualified workers. This is how tracking became a means of sorting out children who were noticed to have limited preparation or ...
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