Friday, March 16, 2012

Social Inequality and Schools


Question: How do school mechanisms contribute to social inequities in the treatment of students.?

Answer/Quote: “The articles in this issue of Research in the Teaching of English highlight the ways in which mechanisms of schooling such as tracking, portfolios, and assessment continue to sort students in inequitable ways.” P. 229.

Quote: . “…the authors all point to the sorting mechanisms that are embedded within American education. They suggest that tracking—as well as most forms of assessment, including portfolios and tests—act as markers of continued social stratification within schooling.” P. 231.

Comment: Gee, I was under the impression that tracking had gone the way of the dodo bird. When I was teaching, tracking was a means to put students together who had high IQ’s and/or better motivation together for quicker learning. It didn’t work then. There were still students who were at the bottom of the Academic A track who were moved into the Academic B track the next year. And no matter how they were grouped, students were still individuals with strengths and weaknesses. However, I can understand that tests and even portfolios can result in sorting students into “homogeneous” groupings. On the surface, it’s not a humane way to deal with human beings. But football coaches routinely do it. And the inequities stand out regardless of the groupings. It’s a dilemma. RayS.

Title: “Editors’ Introduction: Tracking, Assessment, and Persistent Problems of Inequity. M Dressman, S McCarthey  and P Prior, editors. Research in the Teaching of English (February 2012), 229-231.

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