Class School Board Debate Activity: Should Tracking Be Reformed?


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This in-class activity is designed to simulate a school board debate to allow students to understand the differing perspectives about the school tracking debate. In this activity, the students will be broken up into small groups and given an assigned role. The students will be required to give a short speech in front of the class, arguing from their assigned perspective how the tracking system in their school system should be reformed (if at all). Then the students assigned to the school board will make a decision as a committee as to whether they will reform the tracking system, and if so how, based on political constraints. Finally, the instructor facilitates a full class discussion about tracking, social class, political power, and the implications for inequality and reform.


Resource Type(s):
Class Activity 
Alanna Gillis 
Date Published:
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Usage Notes:

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Recommended reading: "Chapter 19: Tracking." 2011. In Sociology of Education: A Critical Reader, 2nd edition. Edited by Alan R. Sadovnik. New York: Taylor and Francis. • Hallinan, Maureen T. “Tracking: From Theory to Practice” and “Further Thoughts on Tracking.” • Oakes, Jeannie. “More than Misplaced Technology: A Normative and Political Response to...

Learning Goals and Assessments:

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Goal 1:
Students will role play and understand how different people have different perspectives about tracking based on their position in society and the school.
Assessment 1:
By working in small groups, students will create a short speech that represents their role’s perspective. By listening to the different speeches delivered, students will understand how perspectives differ.
Goal 2:
Students will understand how tracking systems tend to benefit privileged students while they tend to hurt disadvantaged students.
Assessment 2:
Through in-class discussion and listening to the speeches delivered, students will hear and debate how the current system provides advantages to some students over others (with optional post-class quiz).
Goal 3:
Students will understand why major reform of the tracking system is politically unlikely and this form of inequality is likely to continue.
Assessment 3:
Through in-class discussion and hearing the committee’s decision, students will hear and debate why major reform is unlikely to occur to the tracking system due to political constraints (with optional post-class quiz).

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School Board Debate Activity about Tracking Revised.docx