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The Tracking Wars: State Reform Meets School Policy


reviewed by Maureen Hallinan — 2001

coverTitle: The Tracking Wars: State Reform Meets School Policy
Author(s): Tom Loveless
Publisher: Brookings Institution, Washington D.C.
ISBN: 0815753055, Pages: 225, Year: 1999
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One of the components of the massive school reform effort of the eighties and nineties was the effort to detrack schools. Advocates of detracking argued that students assigned to low tracks learn less because they are exposed to a weaker curriculum and less effective instruction than students assigned to higher tracks. Further, they argued that tracking discriminates against minority and economically disadvantaged students because it disproportionately assigns them to lower tracks. Critics of detracking claimed that teachers find it difficult to instruct students who are heterogeneous with respect to ability. They argued that detracked classes require a level of teacher control and pedagogical skills beyond the reach of many teachers. In 1987, the state of California recommended detracking the state's middle schools; in 1993, Massachusetts followed with the same recommendation for its middle schools. In The Tracking Wars, Loveless examines school responses to detracking policies in these two states. The motivation for the study is the belief that national or statewide policies are of little use unless put... (preview truncated at 150 words.)


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Cite This Article as: Teachers College Record Volume 103 Number 1, 2001, p. 83-85
http://www.tcrecord.org ID Number: 10527, Date Accessed: 10/18/2017 5:35:19 AM

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About the Author
  • Maureen Hallinan
    University of Notre Dame
    Maureen T. Hallinan is a professor of sociology at the University of Notre Dame. Her research interests lie primarily in the sociology of education. She studies determinants and consequences of the organization of students for instruction, and organizational effects on students’ social relationships in schools. Previous research includes studies of cross-race friendships in middle and secondary schools.
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