...This paper provides experimental evidence on the impact of tracking primary school students by initial achievement....One hundred and twenty one primary schools which all had a single grade one class received funds to hire an extra teacher to split that class into two sections. In 60 randomly selected schools, students were randomly assigned to sections. In the remaining 61 schools, students were ranked by prior achievement (measured by their first term grades), and the top and bottom halves of the class were assigned to different sections. After 18 months, students in tracking schools scored 0.14 standard deviations higher than students in non-tracking schools, and this effect persisted one year after the program ended. Furthermore, students at all levels of the distribution benefited from tracking. A regression discontinuity analysis shows that in tracking schools scores of students near the median of the pre-test distribution score are independent of whether they were assigned to the top or bottom section. In contrast, in non-tracking schools we find that on average, students benefit from having academically stronger peers. This suggests that tracking was beneficial because it helped teachers focus their teaching to a level appropriate to most students in the class.
This paper provides experimental evidence that students at all level of the initial achievement spectrum benefited from being tracked into classes by initial achievement. Despite the critical importance of this issue for the educational policy both in developed and developing countries, there is surprisingly little rigorous evidence addressing it, and to our knowledge this paper provides the first experimental evaluation of the impact of tracking in any context.
After 18 months, the point estimates suggest that the average score of a student in a tracking school is 0.14 standard deviations higher than that of a student in a non-tracking school. These effects are persistent. One year after the program ended, students in tracking schools performed 0.16 standard deviations higher than those in non-tracking schools....students who were very close to the 50th percentile of the initial rank distribution within their school scored similarly at the end line whether they were assigned to the top or bottom section. In each case, they did much better than their counterparts in non-tracked schools.
Peer Effects and the Impact of Tracking: Evidence from a Randomized Evaluation in Kenya (pdf file) Esther Duflo1, Pascaline Dupas2, and Michael Kremer3, 4
This will have no effect whatsoever on the folks running our public schools.
stagnation at the top - Fordham report
Tracking: Can It Benefit Low Achieving Children?
Linda Valli on tracking in 5 Catholic high schools, 1
Linda Valli on tracking in 5 Catholic high schools, 2
"school commitment" in Valli's study of tracking in Catholic high schools
7th grade depression starts in 1st grade
ability grouping in Singapore
characteristics of schools where SAT scores did not decline
The Other Crisis in American Education by Daniel Singal
Hiding in Plain Sight: grouping & the achievement gap
tracking: first random-assignment study
SAT equivalence tables
SAT I Individual Score Equivalents
SAT I Mean Score Equivalents
chickens have come home to roost
the deathless meme of the high performing school
Allison on the naturals