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Tracking in U.S. Schools

Tracking is the sorting and grouping of students on the basis of perceived ability. This entry first describes the origins of tracking and its use in today's schools. It then presents the problems with tracking, including unjust assignment practices and inequitable access to quality curricula. The entry considers the debate on whether problems with tracking can be fixed, and concludes with a look at research on the achievement effects of tracking versus detracking.

In the United States, tracking was instituted during the early 1900s as administrators sought to address what they perceived as divergent needs of the exploding school population brought on by urban industrialization, immigration, and the enforcement of compulsory education. Some prominent educators assumed that some students were not college bound and that both ...

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