The Tracking Wars

The Tracking Wars

by Tom Loveless
     
 

In the 1980s, a nationwide reform movement sprang up in opposition to "tracking," the controversial practice of schools grouping students by ability and organizing curriculum by level of difficulty. Officials in two states, Massachusetts and California, adopted policies urging middle schools to reduce or abandon tracking. In this book, Tom Loveless describes how

Overview

In the 1980s, a nationwide reform movement sprang up in opposition to "tracking," the controversial practice of schools grouping students by ability and organizing curriculum by level of difficulty. Officials in two states, Massachusetts and California, adopted policies urging middle schools to reduce or abandon tracking. In this book, Tom Loveless describes how schools reacted to these recommendations and discusses why some schools went along with detracking while others bitterly resisted the reform. Loveless explains that the state policies were adopted without strict mandates, financial incentives, legal threats, or new bureaucratic structures. They were also adopted without convincing evidence that detracking brings lasting benefits to students. But advocates framed tracking reform as a policy supporting greater educational equity. In response, urban schools, low-achieving schools, and schools serving disadvantaged children have reacted sympathetically to the reform. Suburban schools, high-achieving schools, and schools serving wealthier families have been less willing to detrack. Drawing on extensive survey and case study data, Loveless concludes that this reform's fate is in the hands of local decisionmakers. Schools formulate tracking policy based on their own institutional, organizational, political, and technical considerations. All school reform entails risks. One troubling implication of this study is that the risks of detracking are being assumed by schools with some of society's most vulnerable youngsters.

Editorial Reviews

From the Publisher

"...an original and important perspective on tracking....clear theory, well grounded in research and knowledge of the field; solid and suggestive data from a variety of cources; and, a special gift in this field, clear, jargon-free writing. This book will be a durable contribution to the literature on tracking, as well as to the broader literature on how to do research on the reciprocal relationship between policies and complex institutions." —Richard Elmore, Harvard University

Product Details

ISBN-13:
9780815753056
Publisher:
Brookings Institution Press
Publication date:
07/09/1999
Pages:
210
Product dimensions:
6.00(w) x 9.00(h) x 0.48(d)

Meet the Author

Tom Loveless is director of the Brown Center on Education Policy and senior fellow in the Governance Studies program at the Brookings Institution. He is the author of the annual Brown Center Reports on American Education.

Customer Reviews

Average Review:

Write a Review

and post it to your social network

     

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

See all customer reviews >