Date of Award
Executive Ed.D. in Education Leadership Management and Policy
Education Leadership, Management and Policy
Chrisopher Tienken, Ed.D.
Daniel Gutmore, Ph.D.
Nicole Hazel, Ed.D.
Tracking, ability-grouping, standardized assessments, achievement gap, neo-tracing, growth mindset
This study examined the impact of mathematics track placement on the academic achievement of
students as measured by student performance on the 2014 New Jersey High School Proficiency
Assessment (HSPA) in mathematics, and math course attainment in high school as measured by
the level of math class completed by the end of grade 12. A substantive empirical base (Goodlad
& Oakes, 1998; Slavin, 1995; Oakes, 2005; Darling-Hammond, 2010; Gamoran 2009) exists that
outlines the inequalities often associated within tracked school systems. Despite widespread
criticism, tracking remains dominant as a strategy to group students in American high schools
(Loveless 2013). Regional high schools accept students from multiple sending districts and must
by nature make placement decisions based upon, in part, middle school performance. As the
student data utilized in this study was culled from sending districts that all use traditional
tracking strategies, the measurement of student performance within the larger regional high
school may identify both effective and potentially problematic student grouping practices. The
current debate in the field of education regarding the passage of standardized assessments as a
requirement for graduation demands that the impact of course-taking patterns and tracking
decisions on performance on such assessments be more fully investigated.
This study indicated that while ninth grade course placement matters as it relates to
standardized assessment scores, explaining 27.8 % of the student performance and 17.9% of
grade twelve course attainment, other factors may positively alter an individual student academic
trajectory regardless of track placement. The evidence indicates that school districts that take
specific action to mitigate the impacts of tracking may provide students with opportunities and
support that lead to increased academic outcomes. This study contributes to the growing
research that indicates the use of standardized assessments as a sole measure of academic
achievement is deeply flawed if not taking into consideration other factors such as course-taking
patterns, academic opportunities for advancement, and tracking decisions at the local level.
Sampson, Charles B., "Stratification, Tracking and Course-Taking Patterns: An Examination of the Impact of Mathematics Course Placement on Achievement in a Regional High School District" (2019). Seton Hall University Dissertations and Theses (ETDs). 2635.