This encouragement and the ability to have opportunities are at the heart of what Conchas (2006) is trying to say.
There are many individuals who are for the tracking system, and many who are against it. They all have their reasons, and while most of them are good ones, both sides cannot always be correct. One case raised in favor of tracking is based on the research information that students who are low achievers or have low abilities often benefit from being in a class where other individuals are of the same ability level. While some opponents argue that this does not allow children who are doing poorly to have meaningful interaction with those that are doing well, the research findings state that children who are doing poorly often improve when they are placed in classes that are designed for remedial students. In other words, they need to be involved in a classroom environment where the instructor will work with them and help them learn (Gorman, 2003).
They also need to be in an environment where other students are of the same ability level to keep them from feeling as though they are stupid or unable to grasp the material. No one in a classroom likes to feel as though they are the only one who cannot do something. Putting them in classes with high achieving students often makes them feel this way, increases their anxiety level, and prevents them from excelling at math (Gorman, 2003). For all of the individuals who think tracking is a good idea, there are plenty that are against it. Tracking was discontinued in Japan, and it made things worse instead of better (Kariya & Rosenbaum, 1999). In a study published in the Christian Science Monitor, the National Assessment of Educational Progress showed that math scores for fourth through eighth graders had in fact gone up, but math scores for 12th graders had actually lost ground in the last four years due to this particular issue (Chaddock, 2000).
Studies have also shown that disparities between Caucasians and minorities are growing. This is believed to be the result of tracking, since tracking puts someone in a specific category or class and does not allow them to take classes that are more difficult. Effectively, the school is saying that they do not believe a particular student is smart enough to grasp a higher concept. This often puts them at a disadvantage, not only in their academic life but in their social life, as there is often a stigma attached to remedial or "retarded" classes (Chaddock, 2000). While not all of the minority students that Conchas (2006) spoke with were in these types of classes, it is sadly too often the case that they will be found there. However, the success stories that Conchas (2006) discusses also offer a lot of hope for urban and/or minority students that are struggling with the idea that they will never be able to succeed in life or get out of the poverty that they were born into. With the proper encouragement and opportunities, however, this can easily be changed for the better for many of these students.
Chaddock, G.R. (2000). Mixed messages on math as 12th graders falter. Christian Science Monitor. http://csmweb2.emcweb.com/durable/2001/08/03/text/p2s1.html.
Conchas, G. (2006). The Color of Success: Race and High-Achieving Urban Youth. Teacher College Press.
Denevi, E. (2003). Helping White Students and Educators Understand Their Role in a Multicultural Society. National Association of Independent Schools. http://nais.org/pubs/ismag.cfm?file_id=933&ismag _id=1.
Gorman, L. (2003). School style can raise achievement. National Bureau of Economic Research. http://www.nber.org/digest/jul01/w7985.html.
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