Faculty Publications


Elementary school teachers' perceptions and attitudes to the educational structure of tracking.

SelectedWorks Author Profiles:

Frank A. Biafora

Document Type


Publication Date


Date Issued

January 2004

Date Available

September 2014




Although Americans have always viewed education as a vehicle for upward mobility, research continues to reveal that children from less-advantaged families are more often held back in school and often fail to complete their education. To explain this inconsistency, some researchers have focused on the role of socioeconomic obstacles and quality of school issues; while others have underscored the role of parenting and home environment. Recently, an alternative body of research suggests that this disparity in educational outcomes may be explained, in part, by a specific educational structure operating within the schools, namely, tracking (Oakes, 1985; Persell, 1992). However, in spite of the increasing body of research underscoring tracking's negative impact on student achievement, this structure continues to be pervasive in American schools and to date, there has been limited empirical research on the mechanism that maintains tracking and accounts for its popularity. This research focuses on one group of key stakeholders; teachers. It explores the attitudes and perceptions of 124 elementary teachers in three New York State public schools. Self-reports are utilized to explore their perceptions of the advantages and drawbacks of tracking including the issues of "opportunity to learn" and negative self-concept. Interestingly, their reason for supporting a tracking structure revolves more on the managerial challenges associated with instructing large classes of diverse learners and the accompanying complexities of responding to their different needs.


Abstract only. Full-text article is available only through licensed access provided by the publisher. Published in Education, 125(2), 249-258. Members of the USF System may access the full-text of the article through the authenticated link provided.




Project Innovation, Inc.