High school students' perceptions of being tracked in science
Drake, Vicki Lynn
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The personal, social, academic, and future dimensions of being tracked are examined through the perceptions of nine high school seniors who have been tracked, especially in science. This qualitative case study used the theoretical perspective of symbolic interactionism and was conducted in a major southeastern suburban community that is evolving because of increasing multicultural immigration. The participants have been in a curriculum that uses academic tracking were individually interviewed as to their perceptions of the use of academic tracking. Three students from each of the academic levels, technical, college-prep, and honors/gifted, were purposely selected for participation. The focus of the questioning was on their perceptions of self, others, and their learning environment, especially in their science curriculum, as their assigned academic placements. Following the data collection, case and cross-case analyses were made using the constant comparison methodology. The voices of the participants affirm my belief that all students are not receiving a rigorous curriculum with high expectations. Their perceptions provide data that the use of academic tracking or academic segregation is negatively impacting many students in tracked schools. The findings also indicate that many students are not participating in a science curriculum that will enable them to achieve scientific literacy. The use of academic tracking provides too many options for students to choose to do less work and not participate in the necessary curriculum needed for true achievement to take place. Future legal implications are addressed as Courts may interpret that the use of academic tracking violates the rights provided by the Fourteenth Amendment of the United States Constitution. Implications are also made that the use of academic tracking is contradictory to the goals of the National Science Education Standards.