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Can The New “Economic Integration” Study Be Relevant To The Issue Of Tracking By Ability?

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Yesterday, The Washington Post reported on a new study that concludes that lower-income students will do better on academic achievement (measured by tests) in schools where there is “economic integration” with higher income students.

Valerie Strauss does a good job highlighting some of the limitations of the study, too.

I’m wondering, though, if its results might also speak to the issue of tracking by ability within any school…

I know when I teach classes of students who face many challenges, and there are few (if any) others in the class who can be models of perseverance, inquisitiveness, and having high goals, it doesn’t appear to me that as much learning takes place as when there is a “mixed” class.

I’m sure there are readers of this blog who know far more than me about the research on tracking by ability. The little I know about it seems to say that tracking hurts the academically challenged but, at least in some ways, can help the more advanced students. Is that an accurate reading of the research? If it is, I wonder if and how the test results of the higher-income students in yesterday’s study might have been affected? Does anybody know?

Any feedback is appreciated.

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Author: Larry Ferlazzo

I'm a high school teacher in Sacramento, CA.

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