Date of Award

5-14-2014

Document Type

Thesis and Dissertation

Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy (PhD)

Department

Department of Educational Administration and Foundations: Educational Administration

First Advisor

Neil Sappington

Abstract

To explore tracking policies and practices in relation to achievement equity, this quantitative study examined the relationship and differences between students who have completed Advanced Placement (AP)/Honors courses and those who have not in traditional Illinois public high schools. Using a cross-sectional survey design, the study used secondary data from the Illinois State Board of Education indicating high school students' socioeconomic status, race, placement in AP/Honors courses, and ACT scores to answer five research questions that reflected a general understanding of tracking policies and practices as currently employed in American public schools. Specifically, the study addressed the following questions:

1. What are the differences in ACT scores between students who have completed at least one AP/Honors (English, mathematics, science, and/or social studies) course and those who have not?

2. What are the differences in ACT scores between (a) Black students and White students who have completed at least one AP/Honors (English, mathematics, science, and/or social studies) course when income is accounted for, (b) Latino students and White students who have completed at least one AP/Honors (English, mathematics, science, and/or social studies) course when income is accounted for, and (c) Black and Latino students who have completed at least one AP/Honors (English, mathematics, science, and/or social studies) course when income is accounted for?

3. What are the differences in ACT scores between (a) Black students who have completed at least one AP/Honors (English, mathematics, science, and/or social studies) course and those who have not, (b) Latino students who have completed at least one AP/Honors (English, mathematics, science, and/or social studies) course and those who have not, and (c) White students who have completed at least one AP/Honors (English, mathematics, science, and/or social studies) course and those who have not?

4. What are the differences in ACT scores between low-income students and non low-income students who have completed at least one AP/Honors (English, mathematics, science, and/or social studies) course?

5. What are the differences in ACT scores between (a) low-income students who have completed at least one AP/Honors (English, mathematics, science, and/or social studies) course and those who have not, and (b) non low-income students who have completed at least one AP/Honors (English, mathematics, science, and/or social studies) course and those who have not?

To analyze the data, the statistical technique called analysis of variance was used in combination with post hoc tests. Data analysis indicated that across all content areas studied (English, mathematics, science, social studies/reading), students who participated in AP/Honors courses performed significantly better on ACT tests than students who completed only lower track classes. These performance increases were evident regardless of students' socioeconomic status or race. Furthermore, effect sizes generally indicated medium to large treatment effects when comparing the ACT performance of students who completed at least one AP/Honors course to that of students who did not.

The findings of this study suggest that in the interest of increasing student achievement, the elimination of tracking policies and practices would be advantageous to all students. Simply increasing access to the most rigorous curricular and instructional offerings will not, however, result in a narrowing of achievement gaps based upon socioeconomic status and race. While this study found that all students who participated in AP/Honors courses performed better academically than similar peers who participated in only lower track courses, mean differences indicated that some student groups benefited more from participation in high-track courses than others. Specifically, non low-income students derived a greater benefit from participation in AP/Honors courses than low-income students. And White students experienced a greater benefit from participating in AP/Honors courses than African American and Latino students. Therefore, in order to simultaneously increase academic achievement while pursuing achievement equity, detracking must be approached as a means of transforming the traditional practices of schooling so that all students receive access to a rigorous curriculum and uniform quality of instruction that reflect the cultural inclinations of a pluralistic society.

Comments

Imported from ProQuest Colgren_ilstu_0092E_10279.pdf

Page Count

127

Included in

Education Commons

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