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A Think Twice Review of:

2016 Brown Center Report on American Education — Part II: Tracking and Advanced Placement

Think Twice - Apr 26, 2016

Publisher/Think Tank - Brown Center on Education Policy at Brookings

Author(s) - Tom Loveless

Based on the logic that states with more tracking tend to have more students passing AP exams in high school, a recent report from the Brown Center on Education Policy at the Brookings Institution claimed that tracking in eighth grade would promote greater equity. The Brown Center report, authored by Tom Loveless, used state-level data from the NAEP to describe a positive association between tracking in eighth grade and larger percentages of high-scoring AP test takers. Based on the findings, the author claims that tracking is beneficial for high-achieving students.

Reviewer(s) - Marshall Jean, University of Chicago

An academic review of the report questions the impact of tracking policies on low-achieving students, and calls attention to the potential for tracking practices to exacerbate existing educational inequalities. Ultimately, the reviewer, Marshall Jean (University of Chicago) finds the claim that tracking has the potential for promoting equity to be “dubious.” He concludes, “unless tracking systems are implemented carefully and coincide with substantial supports for struggling students, students assigned to low-ranking tracks are likely to be harmed.”