Sunday, April 10, 2011

Tracking: Why schools needs to take another route.


One of the pieces we had to read this week was How Schools Structure Equality by Jeannie Oakes. In this piece Oakes discusses the problem of tracking in class rooms. Although some people think that separating the gifted students from the slower learners is necessary to provide more challenging material for the fast learners, Oakes argues that there are ways that work well to get the most out of each student by intergating fast and slow learners.

"students in high-ability English classes were more likely to be taught classic and modem literature, provided instruction in expository writing and library researcb, and expected to leam vocabulary that would eventually boost their scores on college entrance exams."

This quote is a great example that shows separating fast learners and slow learners create a huge disadvantage for those slower learners later on in their education. The teacher of the class will take  time to teach the fast learners important vocabulary words and gives them challenging activities that will help them succeed in the future. . The students in the lower level classes may not get that information till later in there education and that is a huge disadvantage.  The problem is that faster learners are getting more from school. The slower learners learn less just because it takes them longer to learn. That's not an equal education, especially when you think about the different ways that these students are being asked to learn. The faster learners are being challenge while the slower learners are just being asked to keep up.

"In low-ability classes, for example, teacbers seem to be less encouraging and more punitive, placing more emphasis on discipline and 'behavior and less on academic learning. Compared to teachers in high-ability classes, they seem to be more concerned about getting students to follow directions, be on time, and sit quietly."

I notice this occurring a lot in my VIPS tutoring. I am working with a lower level student, and the teacher just seems to ignore the fact that she is not learning as fast as the other students, and the student is left behind.  The teacher seems to work more with the advanced students and is encouraging them to do more work. I feel like the student I am working with is at a complete disadvantage. 

"In many classrooms the evidence 
of students' capability is a matter of public record. Grades and progress are prominently posted: letters, numbers, stars, smiley faces, race horses, and halos - along with sad faces, zeros,and the ever present blanks."

Also, I see this a lot in my vips tutoring and I do not agree with it at all. For example there is a "We know our multiplication tables 100%" chart on the wall. Everyone in the class has stickers in every single column except 2-3 students. The student that i mostly work with does not have any stickers on her chart. I feel bad because it is praising the more advanced students, where as my student is left behind because she is a slower learner. 

This weeks readings were very interested, and I am excited to hear everyones reactions about them in class on tuesday! (:


  1. You picked some good quotes, and I like the last one. It's something we've talked about before because of Kohn.
    I think we've talked about how teachers teach to the middle and help the higher level kids too. The slower kids are a minority, so testing reflects good progress if the higher percentage middle level students do well. It's too bad that a lot of teachers do that.

  2. I’ve noticed a lot of the same things you have in my own VIPS experiences. My teacher is often trying to quiet down her kids and spends a lot of time trying to get them to follow directions. She even says, “I wish you guys would quiet down faster so we could get more done.” I feel like her being frank with them really gets them to quiet down quicker but its still a problem. We also have a lot of charts up for grades and achievements in the classroom, but mainly its for completing homework or assignment, which is teaching extrinsic value rather than intrinsic, which is a no no. This article was really eye opening for me and made me look at my classroom an entirely different way.

  3. I loved the quotes that you choice. Also, I see this in my VIPS too. My teacher doesn't have any type of chart but when the students are being too loud, she'll set a timer and whoever talks before the timer goes off gets their name written down. Relating back to the "slower learners", I don't think its fair at all to separate students based on this. It's 2011. Somethings needs to be done.

  4. I liked the quotes that you chose.. especially the last one .. I believe this discourages children more than anything else... they're grades are PUBLICLY posted for everyone to see.. if they're getting good grades then i'm sure its more exciting for them, but those 2-3 students that aren't as advanced as the others just yet , that can be humiliating for them.. that makes me really sad.. i see nothing good about that..

  5. I really agree with casey. They shouldn't be posted like that. It can really be humiliating for students :(