One of the most crucial controversies in educational circles today involves the practice of "tracking," or grouping students by ability from the early grades onward. Because the tests that are used to measure "ability" turn out to be a better measure of privilege or deprivation than of innate intelligence, underprivileged children are consistently relegated to the "slow track." Forced into a self-fulfilling and racist prophecy, they must contend with inferior instruction, inequitable resources, and lowered expectations - which all but guarantee their future failure.
Crossing the Tracks is a groundbreaking survey of schools throughout the country that have successfully "crossed the tracks" by reintegrating their classrooms. With all the excitement attendant on any effort at monumental reform, schools from Hawaii to Maine, Minnesota to Louisiana, are changing not only the makeup of their classes but their fundamental approach to education. Wheelock documents the actual experiences of schools as they reduce or eliminate ability grouping and strive to offer superior learning environments to all students.
With chapters on parental involvement, teacher training, curriculum reform, student aspirations, and examples of programs and practices that have been implemented across the nation, Crossing the Tracks is the first book to outline a specific course of action for parents, teachers, administrators, and others ready to join the "untracking" movement.
With its clear writing and many practical features, including a list of successfully-untracked schools and key contact people at each school, Wheelock's text is strongly endorsed by both educators and policy makers. Crossing the Tracks should have a significant impact on our thinking about approaches to elementary and middle-school education and should play a major role in the movement to enrich the learning process for all of our students.