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Tracking [#permalink] New post 24 Mar 2014, 03:38
Tracking seems to contradict the oft-stated assumption that ―all kids can learn.‖ If certain students are better in certain subjects, they must be allowed to excel in those areas and not be relegated to an inferior class simply because they have been tracked in another subject in which they don‘t excel. The major obstacle to eliminate tracking seems to be scheduling, and tracking has become, in many ways, a means to alleviate difficulties faced by administrators in scheduling their student body for classes.
Tracking has the ability to create divergent experiences, even in identical courses that are meant to be taught at the same level and speed. Administrators who support tracking generally assume that it promotes student achievement, citing that most students seem to learn best and develop the most confidence when they are grouped amongst classmates with similar capabilities. Yet, at least for the lower level tracks, this method of class assignment can encourage ―dumbing down,‖ or teaching to the lowest common denominator of ability within a particular class, rather than accommodating differences and pushing all students equally hard.
Tracking places different students in groups that are usually based on academic ability as demonstrated by their grades and as described in teacher reports. These tracks mean that a student will proceed through every school day with essentially the same group of peers, assigned to classes at a particular level of difficulty. Researcher R. Slavin notes that ―students at various track levels experience school differently,‖ depending on their track assignments. There are differences, for example, in how fast a class progresses through material, how talkative and energetic the classroom is, even how stressed or relaxed the teacher appears.
One of the major problems with tracking is that the level in which students are initially placed often determines not only where they remain throughout high school, but also the kinds of courses they are allowed to take. For example, schools that offer Advanced Placement (AP) courses often require that students take the honours-level version of the introductory course before enrolling in the AP course a year or two later. A student who is tracked into the ―regular‖ introductory course, rather than the honours level, may not be able to take the AP course even after doing an exemplary job in the introductory course, simply because the honours course is offered a year earlier than the regular one—allowing honours-track students to complete enough other graduation requirements to have time for the AP course later on. And, even if the ―regular‖-track student could make it into the AP course, he or she would be at a disadvantage, because the introductory course couldn‘t cover key concepts when the teacher was compelled to slow down the class for the less able students.

1. If it were found that students who were tracked did better overall on standardized tests than those who were not tracked, this would most likely weaken the author's argument that:
A. tracking has the ability to create a diversity of student experience in the classroom.
B. tracking encourages teaching to the lowest common denominator.
C. tracking allows administrators to overcome scheduling difficulties.
D. tracking allows students to learn best when grouped with similar-ability classmates.
E. tracking should be banned in schools

2. According specifically to the points laid out by the author in the various paragraphs of the passage, the main idea of the passage is that:
A. tracking should not be used by schools to try and promote student achievement.
B. tracking may be detrimental to many students‘ success in school.
C. teachers of tracked classes are often stressed and run their classes at a slow pace.
D. scheduling is a major problem for school administrators.
E. tracking could prove beneficial for all students in the long run

3. According to the arguments made in the passage, students may fall into a particular track because of all of the following conditions EXCEPT:
A. high grades.
B. learning difficulties.
C. honours-course enrolment.
D. how talkative and energetic they are.
E. they are extremely skilled at a particular subject

4. In spite of what points may be made in other parts of the passage, in paragraph 2, the author is primarily concerned with:
A. contrasting administrative views of tracking with his own views.
B. defining ―dumbing down‖ and its effect on students.
C. describing the diverse experiences students face when tracked.
D. conveying the importance of pushing all students equally hard.
E. listing down the benefits of tracking
Tracking   [#permalink] 24 Mar 2014, 03:38
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