Home Articles Reader Opinion Editorial Book Reviews Discussion Writers Guide About TCRecord
transparent 13

Neotracking in North Carolina: How High School Courses of Study Reproduce Race and Class-Based Stratification

by Roslyn Arlin Mickelson & Bobbie J. Everett - 2008

Background/Context: This article describes neotracking, a new form of tracking in North Carolina that is the outgrowth of the state’s reformed curricular standards, the High School Courses of Study Framework (COS). Neotracking combines older versions of rigid, comprehensive tracking with the newer, more flexible within-subject area curricular differentiation to form an overarching, multilevel framework for high school curricula.

The Course of Study Framework requires 8th graders to select one of three Courses of Study prior to entering high school: Career Preparation, College/Tech Preparation, or College/University Preparation. Exceptional children are enrolled in Occupations, a fourth COS. The COS reform was instituted, in part, to facilitate reaching North Carolina’s twin goals of equity and excellence for all students.

Purpose: The purposes of this article are to investigate if neotracking facilitates or hinders reaching these goals; if there is a relationship between district and school demographics, students’ racial backgrounds and their COS assignments; and if between- and within-school variations in COS placements result in greater or less race and social class stratification in opportunities to learn.

Research Design: Using aggregate data on COS enrollments among Class of 2005 high school seniors in the entire state of North Carolina and the Charlotte-Mecklenburg Schools (CMS), we evaluate COS enrollment patterns by student, school, and school system characteristics.

Findings: Results indicate that although a majority of students across North Carolina enroll in the College/University Prep COS, the variations in enrollment reflect the race, ethnic, and social class stratification in North Carolina. Students in affluent NC school districts are significantly more likely to enroll in the top COS than those living in less affluent school districts. COS enrollments vary by students’ race and ethnicity, too. Likewise, COS enrollments are related to the racial composition of a high school’s student body.

Conclusions: Neotracking tends to reproduce race and social class stratification of opportunities to learn, resulting in the worst of both worlds: the majority of North Carolina’s high school graduates are prepared neither for higher education nor for the workplace—one of the very problems that the accountability movement and the NC Course of Study program was intended to address.

To view the full-text for this article you must be signed-in with the appropriate membership. Please review your options below:

Store a cookie on my computer that will allow me to skip this sign-in in the future.
Send me my password -- I can't remember it
Purchase this Article
Purchase Neotracking in North Carolina: How High School Courses of Study Reproduce Race and Class-Based Stratification
Individual-Resource passes allow you to purchase access to resources one resource at a time. There are no recurring fees.
Become a Member
Online Access
With this membership you receive online access to all of TCRecord's content. The introductory rate of $25 is available for a limited time.
Print and Online Access
With this membership you receive the print journal and free online access to all of TCRecord's content.

Cite This Article as: Teachers College Record Volume 110 Number 3, 2008, p. 535-570
https://www.tcrecord.org ID Number: 14605, Date Accessed: 8/3/2021 8:22:59 PM

Purchase Reprint Rights for this article or review
Article Tools
Related Articles

Related Discussion
Post a Comment | Read All

About the Author
  • Roslyn Mickelson
    University of North Carolina at Charlotte
    E-mail Author
    ROSLYN ARLIN MICKELSON is a Professor of Sociology and Adjunct Professor of Public Policy, Information Technology, and Women’s Studies at the University of North Carolina at Charlotte. Her research focuses on the political economy of schooling and school reform, particularly the relationships among race, ethnicity, gender, class, and educational processes and outcomes. She is currently investigating how post-unitary status resegregation in the Charlotte-Mecklenburg Schools affects educational equity and academic achievement for all students. Her article “Segregation and the SAT” appeared in the Ohio State Law Journal in 2006.
  • Bobbie Everett
    Central Piedmont Community College
    BOBBIE J EVERETT is a Senior Research Analyst at Central Piedmont Community College in Charlotte, NC. She is interested in the school-to-work transition and the role of community colleges in workforce preparation. Everett is the author of “Changing Demographics of African Americans and Hispanic/Latinos in the Charlotte Region of North Carolina” published in Sociation Today, Fall 2005.
Member Center
In Print
This Month's Issue