Tracking, according to edweek.org, is the term used to group students together based on performance in the classroom.
Most high schools follow this sort of set up. Whether it's with Honors, AP, IB, or A and B classes, these are all examples of tracking.
In my particular high school, we had AP, i.e advanced placement, Honors, and A and B tracks for math classes. Classes were considered slightly below honors and B were considered average. Anyone could take AP and Honors classes with teacher signatures and evaluations.
You're probably wondering where I'm going with all of this. Well, I am now a sophomore in high school at Temple. I am taking A Gen Ed called Kids in Crisis.
Yesterday, we were talking about a recent reading he had done which covered tracking. The main focus was tracking in English and Math classes, and how minorities and lower-income students' educations were affected by it.
The author made valid points about how higher-tracked classes were much more involved. The curriculum typically covers things like critical thinking, analyzing and problem-solving.
Lower-tracked classes were the opposite. Students reported learning basic skills such as relationships with people, basic math, and job applications.
On this topic yesterday, I couldn't help but reflect back to my high school years. No school is perfect, but I felt that the way my high school went about tracking was fair.
No one was omitted from being in a "better" learning environment. So I raised my hand and, bravely, voiced my opinion (which scares me).
"...the kids who didn't care were in a separate environment than those who did," I said.
I felt everyone's glares. For one, I wasn't sure why everyone cared so much. But I guess I understand since my blood was boiling, too.
"So, is education an individual pursuit? Or a group pursuit?" my professor asked the class.
HUH? was the only thing I could say.
People make choices every single day of their life. People choose to wake up earlier to eat breakfast before class to focus better. People choose to smoke a blunt rather than work on their essays. These things are literal choices.
I understand some people suffer financially. And my heart goes out to them. But I just can't wrap my head around the fact that education is anything short of an individual choice.
For example, I spent my high school years caring about certain classes more than others. I took AP Language Arts Literacy, and attended every class and submitted everything on time.
On the other hand, I took Calculus A. I was still above average, but I can guarantee I didn't put in as much work for my Calc assignments as I did for my English class.
And that was my personal choice.
So, I am aware not everyone is going to agree with me. I do agree that teachers can play a vital role in student success. But I also believe it is up to the individual to take those tools and implement them.