Terms of Art: Tracking, Streaming

“Tracking, Streaming: A widespread practice in American elementary and secondary school systems, tracking attempts to homogenize classrooms by placing students according to a range of criteria which may include pupil’s performances on standardized aptitude tests, classroom performance, perceived personal qualities and aspirations, and social class and ethnic origin. Different tracks typically offer different curricula, types of student-teacher relationship, and educational resources. The higher college tracks have been found to be more intellectually demanding, with better resources, and more favorable teacher expectations of pupils. Studies have highlighted the implications of tracking in terms of its negative psychological consequences for those placed in the lower tracks, reinforcement of ethnic and social class segregation, and perpetuation of inequality in society. The practice, issues, and debates have their British equivalent in the system of so-called streaming.”

Excerpted from: Marshall, Gordon, ed. Oxford Dictionary of Sociology. New York: Oxford University Press, 1994.

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