This post first appeared on the blog, JoanneJacobs.com
Tracking in eighth grade — usually in math — correlates with higher scores on AP tests at the end of high school, concludes the 2016 Brown Center Report on American Education.
In eighth grade, the tracking question currently boils down to whether high achieving students who are ready for a formal algebra course will get one—or whether all students will take the same general math course.
States with larger percentages of tracked eighth graders produce larger percentages of high-scoring AP test takers, the study found. “The heightened AP performance held across racial subgroups—white, black, and Hispanic.”
There was no relationship between tracking and and the number of students taking AP tests — just to the number who earned a 3, 4 or 5.
Another section looks at how Common Core State Standards (CCSS) are changing instruction in math and reading.
Teachers are teaching more nonfiction in fourth and eighth grade, NAEP data show.
In addition, “data and geometry are receding in importance in fourth grade math, and course enrollments in eighth grade math are shifting away from advanced courses toward a single, general math course,” the report notes.
That suggests fewer achievers will start on the path to passing AP Calculus.
San Francisco Unified middle schools no longer teach algebra, as part of the shift to Common Core standards, reported Ana Tintocalis for KQED last year.
For years, all eighth graders took algebra and many failed, said Lizzy Hull Barnes. Now no one will take algebra till ninth grade.
This “is a social justice issue for SFUSD,” writes Tintocalis. “District officials say the controversial practice of tracking students — or separating them based on talent and ability — is simply wrong.”