Scared.Tracking at public schools, how much of an issue is that. Is every child subjected? - Mothering Forums
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#1 of 16 Old 09-10-2012, 07:25 PM - Thread Starter
 
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when I first heard of tracking at public school system I though the person

was kidding. I though it is so discriminating by design that no way no

how that could be real. Then I watched the documentary on public

school systems in US - waiting for the superman and apparently

tracking is a real thing.

 

I tried to research more on the topic but aside from this it is

hard to find much info:

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Tracking_(education)

 

how serious of the issue is it at todays schools,

is it really true everywhere in the same way?

does it mean that once my child is put on tracks

she can't be moved to different group if for instance

she will be assigned to lower tracks? with worse teachers,

with lower level of education in general..

 

how early on is this done? do they do it as early as

kindergarten or first grades?

 

I wonder if someone who was a teacher or educator

working in different capacity then teacher did have

first hand experience with tracking, how is it done,

who decides on those things, how is it handled

and why parents do not have the access to the information

or process.

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#2 of 16 Old 09-10-2012, 08:30 PM
 
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Honestly, before fourth grade its mostly fast readers/slow readers. Usually given code names like Blue Jays and Robins.

At the later elm. grades there is generally some segregation based on math and reading. As the mom of two gifties, it helps to have a "faster" class. Otherwise, my kids get to peer help everyone or just have extra regular work heaped on them. No fun. Having too many kids below par in class slows down the progress of the whole class.


The most flexibility comes in junior high and high school. These schools are usually large enough that kids can not be tracked all the same. They can usually get high language arts but benefit from average or slow math if that's not their strong suit. Because not every child is a strong student in all subjects. I was terrible at math and made straight A's in everything else.
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#3 of 16 Old 09-11-2012, 12:00 AM
 
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When I was in school, the tracks started in second grade. By high school, there was the Standard, Honors, and Gifted classes. The kids in standard classes weren't really expected to achieve anything, they were the suture gas station attendants. The honors kids were a toss up and the gifted kids were expected to go to college, graduate with a degree or two and get a nicely paid job.


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#4 of 16 Old 09-11-2012, 07:33 AM
 
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It  really depends on the school.  In my experience as a student teacher, tracking is not so cut and dry.  Almost all classes/schools have heterogeneous class structures.  If there are multiple classes per grade the classes are balanced (not a fast class and a slow class, but a mix of learners in each class).  Many schools use reading groups, reading groups are more informal than "tracking" as they are determined by the teacher.  These will be the groups used during guided reading and literacy centers (coded as pp stated with "cute" names or colors or something, although the kids all know which are the higher readers and which are the struggling readers based on what they are reading).  Occasionally a group will be pulled out or a literacy teacher (or special ed teacher depending on school/diagnosis of students etc) will be "pushed in" (which means they come into the classroom to work with a group of students instead of removing those students from the classroom).  

 

Depending on the school, the curriculum, the teacher there may not be reading groups, or the reading groups might be made up of students from all levels.

 

Again depending on the school, curriculum, and teacher there may be groups for math as well.  Any decent school/teacher will not have the same groups for reading and math because just because someone is a fluent reader does not mean they are getting mathematical concepts quickly.

 

Most of the teacher who I have seen working (in a large urban school district) reevaluate grouping on a regular basis (usually through testing or other informal assessments) and then regroup students.  Not all do though.  I was in one school where the teacher stated (repeatedly! in front of the kids!!!!) that this was a slow, low level class and they gave her all the "low" kids.  

 

It is really going to depend on the school, the curriculum being used, the teacher and the policies in place.  Not all schools do tracking.  Tracking is generally frowned upon in teacher education classes.  All public schools are required by law to have inclusive classrooms (which means students with special education diagnosis are in the general ed classroom), but the way different schools do this (even within the same district) may develop into de facto tracking (i.e. the class I spoke about earlier where the teacher claimed all the students were "low" was *the* inclusive 2nd grade at that school, the other 2nd grade class did not have students with IEPs).

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#5 of 16 Old 09-11-2012, 07:34 AM
 
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I think this thread might do better in Learning At School where parents have their kids in schools and would be able to speak to their experiences. 

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#6 of 16 Old 09-11-2012, 10:15 AM
 
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Quote:
Originally Posted by MamaPrincess View Post

how serious of the issue is it at todays schools,

is it really true everywhere in the same way?

does it mean that once my child is put on tracks

she can't be moved to different group if for instance

she will be assigned to lower tracks? with worse teachers,

with lower level of education in general..

 

how early on is this done? do they do it as early as

kindergarten or first grades?

 

I wonder if someone who was a teacher or educator

working in different capacity then teacher did have

first hand experience with tracking, how is it done,

who decides on those things, how is it handled

and why parents do not have the access to the information

or process.


Lots of questions there! You might also cross post this in the school forum as the parents there are dealing with kids in schools. Some of us here have kids in school, some of us have taken them home after them being in school and some have a mixed situation with some home/some in school.  I will answer these as someone trained as a teacher who now homeschools 1 and has 1 in a private school.

 

Most schools work with a child based on ability starting in Kindergarten or 1st grade. In public schools with multiple classes, this may mean you have math with one group of kids and reading with another or you may be with the high math kids all day or the the high reading kids all day.  In smaller schools, you will see differentiation done differently, often as reading groups or as cubed education (there is a basic activity, those on a higher level need to include these additional components, the highest students add these basically meaning if I had a cube with activities on it lows would do 2, mids would do 4, highs would do 6 if that makes sense).

 

Some schools this could mean your child is on one track and it may be hard to get out of that track.  It doesn't always mean "worse" teachers though.  Unfortunately kids test scores not only pigeon hole kids, they also can teachers.  If you have kids who perfom at a level of C (numeric based system) or below and you do everything you can but their ability to handle the curriculum you are forced to teach is at a C no matter what, you look like a "bad" teacher for not bringing up their grades.  Teachers can be great, they can be awful. A great teacher might not click with you or your kid and you can view them as awful even if everyone else thinks they are wonderful.  One of the teachers that damaged my dc the most was one I thought was wonderful based on seeing her teach other kids.  Unfortunately she and my dc did not click and as a result she did not treat dc well.  That is hard to overcome, in some ways harder when you are anticipating a great year and the dynamic is off.

 

How early- Depends on your school.  Different schools in one district may handle things differently based on numerous factors (funding, number of students, socio-economic make-up of the students, different teachers and administrators, etc).  Different districts have their own system and guidelines.  Each state then governs above that.  There are some federal guidelines as well.  One thing the Core Curriculum Standards is working to implement is less differentiation in the younger years. In theory this is great because all kids will have an even playing field.  In reality it doesn't play out well (in my experience) because every child comes in with their own strengths and weaknesses.  If my kid comes into K reading chapter books and my neighbor's kid comes in not knowing even letters, how can you academically meet their needs by teaching the exact same thing. For privacy reasons they do not advertise typically if a group is arranged according to ability for all things.  If you know they arranged based on the lowest readers for example, you now know that not only is your kid struggling but every other kid in there.

 

A good teacher will recognize each child as an individual, work to meet their needs, and allow the process of learning to change, stretch and grow as they facilitate that child within their classroom REGARDLESS of a tracking system that may exist.  It is one of the main reasons I now homeschool, I am able to provide that for my dc.

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#7 of 16 Old 09-17-2012, 10:06 AM
 
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I was in HS 2000-2004 and managed to move from the low/standard classes  to honors classes by my senior year and my now husband moved from honors to AP classes. So at least for us in an Illinois suburb we both shifted up a "Track" in high school. Though I really had to fight for it. I HATED my normal classes, getting in honors English was a breath of fresh air for me. 


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#8 of 16 Old 09-17-2012, 12:43 PM
 
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I'm in Canada, so I have no experience with the US school system. I will say, though that differentiating (which means finding out where a child is at and giving them the education that is best suited to their current ability and needs) often looks a bit like tracking (which so often implies sorting by assumed ability and narrowing future prospects based on that sorting). One is based on current needs, while the other extends that to make assumptions about future needs and prospects. I think differentiation is awesome, while tracking can be very toxic. 

 

That being said, I think there is a good argument for voluntary tracking (with some inter-track mobility possible) at the high school level. Some kids end up feeling like failures because they're poorly suited to academic-focused education. Given another focus and approach, they may very well thrive.

 

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#9 of 16 Old 09-18-2012, 02:04 PM
 
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Quote:

Originally Posted by MamaPrincess View Post

 

does it mean that once my child is put on tracks

she can't be moved to different group if for instance

she will be assigned to lower tracks? with worse teachers,

with lower level of education in general..

 

 

no, that's not how it works. Kids who need extra help and smaller classes are given it. Kids who have the ability to move more quickly through the material are allowed to do so.

 

The requirements in our public school for the teachers who work with the lower achieving students are HIGHER than for the main track. The teachers have special training. The goal it is make every child successful, and to provide the appropriate education for each child.

 

Also, parents have to agree to the extra help. So in our public school, if your child were struggling and not grasping the material, you could make the choice to not allow them to have time with a smaller group with a teacher with extra training. I don't know why anyone would do that, but it's up to the parent. Parents have the right to leave their child in the regular classroom full time and just fall further and further behind rather getting help.


but everything has pros and cons  shrug.gif

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#10 of 16 Old 09-18-2012, 02:41 PM
 
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OMG this is still going on?! My HS did this, late 80s. I was standard (not college prep) & my mom called screaming (not literally) when they didn't want me to take Spanish. Ugh.

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#11 of 16 Old 09-19-2012, 08:58 PM
 
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There are schools that don't do this? I grew up with it in private schools and when my kids were in school those private schools did it as well. It was never anything like 'well, we've seen your first grade work and decided you're going to a janitor so we're going to train you for that from here on out'. How is a teacher supposed to teach everyone properly if the class has a big mix of abilities? They would either have to leave the slower kids behind or leave the advanced kids to entertain themselves while the other kids learned.

 

In elementary school there were two classes for each grade level. One was the advanced class and one was the at grade level class. Kids who failed were dismissed from the school so remedial work wasn't an issue. All the kids knew which was the advanced class. Kids would sometimes be switched from one class to the other. Every day we switched for social studies and math so each teachers would have the chance to each the advanced kids. 

 

In high school you could take any class you wanted but if you wanted to take an AP class or freshman/sophomore advanced classes it was understood that if you proved to not be up to it you would be moved to the less advanced classes.

 

This is part of the reason we homeschool. One of our kids is at grade level in some areas, advanced in others, and behind in others. We didn't want them going to a school where they would be stuck in either the advanced class and would do poorly in some subjects while being bored with others or put in the grade level class and would have to be majorly bored most of the time then would get correct instruction for a portion of the day. 

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#12 of 16 Old 09-21-2012, 11:35 AM
 
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"It was never anything like 'well, we've seen your first grade work and decided you're going to a janitor so we're going to train you for that from here on out'."

But that's kinda how it was at my HS. Because I didn't pass algebra the first time I took it I was "demoted" & they tried to bar me from language classes, despite the fact that I was excelling there & in most other non math classes.

Surprise! I put myself through college for computer programming. Turns out I just needed a different way of teaching.

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#13 of 16 Old 09-21-2012, 12:27 PM
 
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There are schools that don't do this? I grew up with it in private schools and when my kids were in school those private schools did it as well. It was never anything like 'well, we've seen your first grade work and decided you're going to a janitor so we're going to train you for that from here on out'. How is a teacher supposed to teach everyone properly if the class has a big mix of abilities? They would either have to leave the slower kids behind or leave the advanced kids to entertain themselves while the other kids learned.

In elementary school there were two classes for each grade level. One was the advanced class and one was the at grade level class. Kids who failed were dismissed from the school so remedial work wasn't an issue. All the kids knew which was the advanced class. Kids would sometimes be switched from one class to the other. Every day we switched for social studies and math so each teachers would have the chance to each the advanced kids. 

In high school you could take any class you wanted but if you wanted to take an AP class or freshman/sophomore advanced classes it was understood that if you proved to not be up to it you would be moved to the less advanced classes.

This is part of the reason we homeschool. One of our kids is at grade level in some areas, advanced in others, and behind in others. We didn't want them going to a school where they would be stuck in either the advanced class and would do poorly in some subjects while being bored with others or put in the grade level class and would have to be majorly bored most of the time then would get correct instruction for a portion of the day. 

This is not how it works here and I have attended both public & private schools and my daughters are attending public school as we speak and every class I have ever been in or my girls have been in has been a equal balance of ability levels. Yes there are different levels of reading groups and math groups but it is not made common knowledge in the class how the groups were selected. It would be nearly impossible to divide kids up in the way you describe since a strong reader may struggle with math and vice versa which would make placement in one track inaccurate.
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#14 of 16 Old 09-26-2012, 02:58 PM
 
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This is not how it works here and I have attended both public & private schools and my daughters are attending public school as we speak and every class I have ever been in or my girls have been in has been a equal balance of ability levels. Yes there are different levels of reading groups and math groups but it is not made common knowledge in the class how the groups were selected. It would be nearly impossible to divide kids up in the way you describe since a strong reader may struggle with math and vice versa which would make placement in one track inaccurate.

 

I'm not sure why it would be so difficult. It wouldn't be perfect but having the kids who are generally more advanced in a separate class from the kids who are less advanced overall seems to make sense. Growing up both classes had reading groups and although it wasn't known to the kids exactly how the selection process worked it was known, even in first grade, that this group of kids are smarter and using more difficult books and this other group is not. Kids pick up on things like that. I guess it doesn't seem fair to me that academically advanced kids are not advancing the way they could so they can be in a mixed ability class and help/mentor children who aren't achieving like they are. 

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#15 of 16 Old 09-26-2012, 03:06 PM
 
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Originally Posted by neonalee View Post

"It was never anything like 'well, we've seen your first grade work and decided you're going to a janitor so we're going to train you for that from here on out'."
But that's kinda how it was at my HS. Because I didn't pass algebra the first time I took it I was "demoted" & they tried to bar me from language classes, despite the fact that I was excelling there & in most other non math classes.
Surprise! I put myself through college for computer programming. Turns out I just needed a different way of teaching.
Sent from my phone using Tapatalk, please ignore typos!

 

High school is a different story. I think the op was talking about younger elementary children. I can see how a high school would not allow kids to take a class if, and only if, the class was otherwise full. It's not a great situation but schools have to make decisions based on past performance and decide who gets what opportunities. In high school one kid wasn't allowed to take journalism again (it was a multi year course) because he didn't do well enough the first year and other kids who did do well wanted to be in the class. Another student was dropped from our ap earth science class so a student who had already done other advanced science classes and had been accepted to college for a related major could get in. Things like this below high school shouldn't happen but high school is to prepare students for the real world, after high school no one is going to let them try something when they haven't proven themselves capable with less demanding work first, PK-8th grade was their opportunity to do everything and prove themselves at it. 

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#16 of 16 Old 09-26-2012, 04:42 PM
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Originally Posted by moominmamma View Post

I'm in Canada, so I have no experience with the US school system. I will say, though that differentiating (which means finding out where a child is at and giving them the education that is best suited to their current ability and needs) often looks a bit like tracking (which so often implies sorting by assumed ability and narrowing future prospects based on that sorting). One is based on current needs, while the other extends that to make assumptions about future needs and prospects. I think differentiation is awesome, while tracking can be very toxic. 

 

Miranda

Well said Miranda!  I bolded the part that seemed to come right from my thoughts.

 

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