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# Tracking seems to contradict the oft-stated assumption that ―all kids

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Joined: 30 Dec 2016
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GMAT 1: 650 Q42 V37
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Updated on: 09 Oct 2019, 03:11
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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 similarability 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:

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

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Originally posted by sandysilva on 22 Feb 2018, 05:06.
Last edited by SajjadAhmad on 09 Oct 2019, 03:11, edited 1 time in total.
Updated - Complete topic (876).
Manager
Joined: 30 Dec 2016
Posts: 231
GMAT 1: 650 Q42 V37
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Re: Tracking seems to contradict the oft-stated assumption that ―all kids  [#permalink]

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03 Sep 2018, 13:02
OEs
1..
An incorporation question. How would the author‘s argument be affected if tracked students did better than their non-tracked counterparts? The question tells you that the argument would be weakened, so you just need to find an answer choice summarizing an argument the author makes against tracking on the basis of performance. (B) is just such a choice: the author argues in ¶2 that tracking encourages ―dumbing down‖

(A): Faulty Use of Detail. The author does argue this at the beginning of ¶2, but the statement isn‘t made in order to argue directly that tracking hurts academic performance. Therefore, it wouldn‘t be weakened by evidence that indicates higher performance.

(C): Faulty Use of Detail. The author makes this point in ¶1, but this is an advantage of tracking, and one of the reasons it sticks around. If evidence that tracking was also good for test scores came out, it would presumably strengthen this argument.

(D): Faulty Use of Detail. As above, the author notes this in ¶1 when discussing the advantages of tracking. It doesn‘t have anything to do with academic performance, however, and so the argument wouldn‘t be directly affected by the new evidence in the question stem.

(E): The author never states that tracking should be banned in schools so there is no question of strengthening or weakening anything

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SandySilva

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Re: Tracking seems to contradict the oft-stated assumption that ―all kids  [#permalink]

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03 Sep 2018, 13:03

2) A main idea question. Predict using topic, scope, and purpose. The author argues that tracking in schools leads to disadvantages for the students. Clearly, he is not in favour of tracking. This knowledge allows us to focus in on the global choices (A) and (B). Of the two, (A) oversteps the scope of the passage. Only (B) accurately encompasses what the author is arguing.

(A): Out of Scope. The author never actually argues that tracking should be eliminated, only that it has some negative consequences.

(C): Faulty Use of Detail. Stress level is mentioned at the end of ¶3, but this is not the author‘s main point of the passage.

(D): Faulty Use of Detail. Scheduling is mentioned at the end of ¶1, but this is not the author‘s main point of the passage.

(E): Opposite as explained in ‗B‘ above

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SandySilva

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Re: Tracking seems to contradict the oft-stated assumption that ―all kids  [#permalink]

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03 Sep 2018, 13:04

3) A scattered detail question. Either eliminate or look for a choice that seems foreign. While the first three are mentioned as criteria for tracking in the passage, (D) isn‘t mentioned as a criterion for tracking. While the author notes in ¶3 that ―there are differences…in…how talkative and energetic the classroom is‖ depending on tracking, there‘s no suggestion that students are tracked based on how talkative or energetic they are individually.

(A): Opposite. The author mentions grades as a criterion in the opening lines of ¶3.

(B): Opposite. The author cites ―academic ability‖ as a criterion for tracking in ¶3.

(C): Opposite. The author discusses the way students get locked in to higher tracks (i.e. AP courses) with honours courses (¶4).

(E): Opposite. This is stated in ¶1.

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SandySilva

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Manager
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Re: Tracking seems to contradict the oft-stated assumption that ―all kids  [#permalink]

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03 Sep 2018, 13:05

4) Use your map to predict the purpose of ¶2: the author first describes why administrators like tracking (it promotes achievement) and then argues that it in fact does the opposite. (A) captures this structure of administrative views and authorial response.

(B): Faulty Use of Detail. While this represents the author‘s view in the paragraph, it neglects the administrative views in the first half of the paragraph. (C): Faulty Use of Detail. The author mentions ―divergent experiences‖ that occur in tracking, but only as an introduction to discussing the arguments for and against the practice.

(D): Faulty Use of Detail. As in (B), while this is part of the author‘s argument against tracking, it neglects the views of the administrators.

(E): No benefits are listed in this paragraph

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SandySilva

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Re: Tracking seems to contradict the oft-stated assumption that ―all kids  [#permalink]

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28 Sep 2019, 07:13
Topic and Scope - The disadvantages of ―tracking‖ in schools

Mapping the Passage

¶1 argues that tracking contradicts the philosophy that all can learn, and presents an
obstacle to eliminating tracking: it makes scheduling easier.
¶2 responds to the argument that tracking improves learning by stating that tracking
can ―dumb down‖ lower level tracks.
¶3 defines tracking and notes that it is common in the nation‘s schools.
¶4 notes a major problem with tracking: inability for some students in lower tracks to
get into higher-level classes later.
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Re: Tracking seems to contradict the oft-stated assumption that ―all kids   [#permalink] 28 Sep 2019, 07:13
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