Literacy and Liberty

Academic Tracking
Posted by: , November 19, 2018, 1:09 am
Filed under: Uncategorized

Guiding Questions:

  1. How are students selected for enrollment in the ACT program? How does this process lead to such a limited represented demographic in the program? How does the test itself factor in, and why are teachers and parents choosing which children take it?
  2. What can be done to change the existing flaws in the selection process.

Potential Thesis: The methods used to choose and test students throughout their elementary years for participation in the ACT program contribute to the development of segregated academic tracks in the Carlisle Area School District through graduation.

Drafted Intro.: In 2017 there were sixty students enrolled in Carlisle High School’s gifted students program, out of around 1,500 total. Of those sixty students, only one was a person of color. Despite eight elementary schools pooling into the high school, and far more contributing transferring students, those enrolled came overwhelmingly from only two in the district, those being North Dickinson and Mooreland elementary schools, both unusually wealthy for the overall environment. These students were chosen through a seemingly simple process: teachers choose students who they deem unusually capable to be given an IQ test by one of the school’s guidance counselors. The counselor pulls them out of class, tests them, and if they score over 130 points they’re admitted into the program. There are some potential variations, including the ability of parents who believe their child could be eligible to pay for the delivery of the test and the ability of parents, again, to request a “re-test” of their child should they not place into the program the first time.

The academic “tracks” at Carlisle High School are also almost entirely segregated both by race and economic class. There are three tracks– Option One and Vocational Studies are for students planning on entering the work force immediately upon graduation. Option Two is referred to as the “college prep” track, in which there is the greatest racial and economic integration. This is the track which is meant to prepare students for entry into some variant on a higher education institution. The final track is the AP and Honors, meant for students who plan on attending a four year college or university, potentially followed by additional schooling. Many of the AP track classes require entry exams, letters of recommendation from other teachers and additional summer assignments. The tracks are not entirely rigid, and some students cross between them varying on subject lines, but most stay within one for all four years of high school. Students enrolled in elementary school with the ACT program almost exclusively enter on the AP and Honors track.



2 Comments so far
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Julia, this is a terrific start on a project I know has been simmering for some time. As you continue to work on honing your depiction of your own experience (to the extent it will feature directly in the project) and on interviews, I also want to encourage you to pan out in your research to include some broader context on tracking in the US–its history, rationales, locales, current configuration… Nice work!

   Professor Seiler 11.20.18 @ 2:02 pm

This seems like a very interesting paper! I’m really excited to learn more about the selection process for placing particular students on separate ‘tracks’ throughout high school. You have a really solid start already on the direction you want your research to go in.

   Meredith 11.25.18 @ 12:27 pm

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