Beyond Tracking and Detracking: The Dimensions of Organizational Differentiation in Schools

65 Pages Posted: 8 Jul 2016 Last revised: 16 Jul 2016

See all articles by Thurston Domina

Thurston Domina

University of North Carolina (UNC) at Chapel Hill

Andrew McEachin

RAND Corporation

Paul Hanselman

affiliation not provided to SSRN

Priyanka Agarwal

Colvin Taluqdars College

NaYoung Hwang

affiliation not provided to SSRN

Ryan Lewis

affiliation not provided to SSRN

Date Written: July 7, 2016

Abstract

Schools utilize an array of strategies to match curricula and instruction to students’ heterogeneous skills. While generations of scholars have debated “tracking” and its consequences, the literature fails to account for diversity of school-level sorting practices. In this paper we draw upon the work of Sorenson (1970) to articulate and develop empirical measures of five distinct dimensions of school cross-classroom tracking systems: (1) the degree of course differentiation, (2) the extent to which sorting practices generate skills-homogeneous classrooms, (3) the rate at which students enroll in advanced courses, (4) the extent to which students move between tracks over time, and (5) the relation between track assignments across subject areas. Analyses of longitudinal administrative data following 24,000 8th graders enrolled in 23 middle schools through the 10th grade indicate that these dimensions of tracking are empirically separable and have divergent effects on student achievement and the production of inequality.

Suggested Citation

Domina, Thurston and McEachin, Andrew and Hanselman, Paul and Agarwal, Priyanka and Hwang, NaYoung and Lewis, Ryan, Beyond Tracking and Detracking: The Dimensions of Organizational Differentiation in Schools (July 7, 2016). RAND Working Paper Series WR- 1155. Available at SSRN: https://ssrn.com/abstract=2806727 or http://dx.doi.org/10.2139/ssrn.2806727

Thurston Domina (Contact Author)

University of North Carolina (UNC) at Chapel Hill ( email )

102 Ridge Road
Chapel Hill, NC NC 27514
United States

Andrew McEachin

RAND Corporation ( email )

1776 Main Street
P.O. Box 2138
Santa Monica, CA 90407-2138
United States

Paul Hanselman

affiliation not provided to SSRN

Priyanka Agarwal

Colvin Taluqdars College ( email )

Lucknow
India

NaYoung Hwang

affiliation not provided to SSRN

Ryan Lewis

affiliation not provided to SSRN

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