Faculty Publications


Tracking in the schools: Perceptions and attitudes of parents.

SelectedWorks Author Profiles:

Frank A. Biafora

Document Type


Publication Date


Date Issued

January 2010

Date Available

September 2014




As America concludes the first decade of the new century, significant income and educational disparities based on race and social origin continue to persist. For many, the root cause of this disparity is an educational system that lacks equity and excellence -- especially for children of disadvantaged populations. By examining the overall impact of one common educational practice -- tracking -- this research attempts to shed light on how education can contribute to the ever widening achievement gap. Tracking, a controversial form of educational differentiation which involves the separation of students by perceived academic ability and curriculum, is pervasive in American schooling. Research on tracking is extensive and occupies a significant place in the sociology of education. In general, the research has evolved along two distinct lines of inquiry. The first considers the overall impact of this educational practice on student academic achievement while, the second, explores how student academic outcomes are mediated by teacher expectation. The current research examines another interesting dimension of this controversial issue. It attempts to uncover the reasons why tracking remains pervasive in schooling despite the large body of research evidence highlighting its negative impact on student outcomes. Earlier phases of this research, conducted by the authors, have examined the perceptions of two key stakeholders in the tracking debate, teachers and principals. This current study examines the views and perceptions of parents whose children have been tracked in order to provide additional insights as to why tracking remains widespread in American schooling. The findings reveal parents to be are among the strongest supporters of this educational practice.


Abstract only. Full-text article is available only through licensed access provided by the publisher. Published in Race, Gender & Class, 17(1-2), 226-240. Members of the USF System may access the full-text of the article through the authenticated link provided.




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