Tracking in the United States : descriptive statistics from NELS

by D. I. Rees, L. M. Argys, Dominic J. Brewer

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Although there is a general sense among education researchers that the practice of ability grouping is widespread, national descriptive statistics on the subject is scarce. This note presents data from the National Educational Longitudinal Study of 1988 that suggest a sizeable majority of 8th and 10th grade students are tracked. Also, it is found that informal tracking patterns in the 8th grade and 10th grade seem to be broadly similar. Lastly, the authors note that students from low socioeconomic backgrounds, blacks, and Hispanics are more likely to be enrolled in lower track classes and less likely to be in upper track classes.

Originally published in: Economics of Education Review, v. 15, no. 1, 1995, pp. 83-89.

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