ETS Policy Notes — Tracking

ETS Policy Information Center
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Student classification ability levels academic performance mathematics middle school placement demographics curricula advanced programs grouping


This issue of ETS Policy Notes (Volume 4, No. 1) explores a practice in education called "tracking" -- the classification of students within grades into ability groups. The four articles presented in this issue are drawn from a project carried out by ETS and the National Urban League called "On the Right Track," which studied tracking practices in math classes in 13 middle grade schools across six urban school districts during the 1989-1990 school year. The first article, "A Long Track Record," looks at the history of tracking in the United States and the relationship between tracking and testing. The second article, "District Tracking Policies: Variations on a Theme," details the tracking policies of six urban school districts at the middle school level. The third article, "What Happens in the Classroom," gives a snapshot of life in math classes in the low, middle, and high tracks across the 13 schools participating in the project. The fourth article, "A Look at the Students," describes some of the data that were collected from a questionnaire given to about 2,000 students in different math tracks across the six school districts.