Sources Of Inequity In Highly Tracked Courses

1109 words - 5 pages

Many students expressed the desire for study groups and more office hours. Currently, the teacher is holding office hours whenever possible, and although that is limited by the teachers availability, the formation of a study group is not. A school-sponsored study group can be extremely beneficial for students who may otherwise feel awkward asking a classmate they just met if they would like to study together. One student stated, “Most of what BHS would probably try to offer, most kids seek out on their own. It would be nice to set up a peer study group at a set location on days when teacher is not available if only for the students who don't have friends they feel they can rely on. That way ...view middle of the document...

Aside from an inequity in learning style and accommodating for difficult courses, there is a noticeable inequity when it comes to the demographics of the classroom itself. The IB Biology course I had the opportunity of sitting in was roughly two-thirds Caucasian. From the surveys results, I came to know that the majority of the students, including many of the minorities, in the course went to private middle schools. IB Biology is a highly tracked course and requires students to attend zero period twice a week, which occurs from 7:30-8:30 AM. I was already aware of the self-scheduling system and the network of parents who ensure that their kids get the best teachers possible (Rubin, et al., 2008), but what I noticed was that at 7:30 AM, there were no other classes were offered to average students who wanted to learn. There was an occasional student hanging out in the hallway because his parent had to drop him off early, but all the other classes taking place were like IB Biology, difficult, highly tracked, and demographically unfavorable towards minorities. Berkeley High School uses the tracking system, and it is notoriously difficult to jump tracks. However, are they really making an effort to allow students to jump tracks? The school is opened at 7:30. There is a whole hour of class time four times a week going to waste that could potentially be used as enrichment class time for students to get ahead in a course, so that maybe jumping tracks would not be as difficult. Dr. Jo Bowler from Stanford University states that school should be ranked not only by test scores, but also by how much a student has improved over the course of one year. This will hold schools accountable for ensuring that all students are receiving the education they deserve (Boaler, 2003), not only the so-called “gifted”. Although being awake for class at 7:30 seems like a huge chore, there are always students ready to take advantage of the opportunities put forth for them. The tracking debate has constantly portrayed tracking as the beacon of inequity in education. However, it does not have to be as long as we provide the resources for students falling behind to get ahead.
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