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Topic: "Tracking and fine distinctions"
Replies: 8   Last Post: May 14, 1997 3:15 PM

 Messages: [ Previous | Next ]
 W Gary Martin Posts: 55 Registered: 12/6/04
Re: "Tracking and fine distinctions"
Posted: May 14, 1997 9:50 AM

At 20:27 -0400 5/13/97, Gerald Von Korff wrote:
...
>On the contrary, I believe in grouping. But before we can have a
>meaningful dialogue on grouping, we need to get some red herrings out of
>the way. It is not necessary to track (my definition) in order to
>group. Kids can, as you properly point out, join different groups,
>depending upon their current level of interest and performance.
>
>But the "educrats" as you call them, want to conduct the debate on more
>congenial territory. And so, they call grouping tracking, thus forcing
>the discussion around an entirely different issue.

The problem is that grouping, even as you describe it, very rapidly turns
into de facto tracking. It is very common that an elementary classroom will
have different levels of math groups. Now you may not call this tracking,
but in fact students are not shuffled around all that much. And it is
difficult to move up to a higher level. Think about it: If I'm in the red
group working on Chapter 6, how easy will it be for me to move up to the
advanced blue group working on Chapter 8? This can also become a
self-fulfilling prophecy; I am in the low group, which means I'm not good
in math... so what's the use in studying hard? Finally, lower groups may
well receive less intellectually stimulating instruction than the "able"
students, since they are not believed to be capable of higher-level
So, while adjustments for "current level of interest and performance" may
sound commendable, they are just not that likely. As we all know, inertia
is a powerful force in education. Many students are put in the low group
(track) in early elementary... and are put in the low group (track) every
succeeding year for the rest of their careers. It is an awful waste.
W. Gary Martin

PS: I didn't know this was a competition that had sides. I thought we were
all on the same side, working towards improving the education of children.

Date Subject Author
5/13/97 Gerald Von Korff
5/14/97 W Gary Martin
5/14/97 Ralph A. Raimi