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Pedro Noguera’s “Unequal Outcomes, Unequal Opportunities: Closing the Achievement Gap in Berkeley” and Tracking

By Yungfabulous1 May 07, 2013 1551 Words
Fabienne Germain
Professor Massey
EDU 301

Tracking Paper

In Pedro Noguera’s “Unequal Outcomes, Unequal Opportunities: Closing the Achievement Gap in Berkeley” and the video “Off Track: Classroom Privilege for All”, both the video and the article talks about the negativities of the tracking system in the schools. They get into how the tracking system has divided the students in ways that we didn’t realize. Both the article and video shows how the students are put in this tracking system where not all students benefit in. There are some students, mostly minority students are put in lower level courses that is not beneficial to them or helps them reach their full potential. For a long time this tracking system has been here in many schools but yet there has not been any changes made to stop this tracking system from continuing in the schools. There are many factors that lie behind this system that would make it difficult for anyone to stop this problem. In the video “Off Track: Classroom Privilege for All”, the students and teachers of Montclair High school talks about the effects tracking has towards the students. There are students and parents that don’t realize that the students are being tracked in the schools. For minority students, the concept of them being in the lower level seems to come natural for them. They become used to the fact that if you were a student of color or from a lower economic background, you belonged in those lower levels. If you were white or had a higher economic background, you were more likely to be in the higher level courses. While looking at the video, there are students that are concerned about how they are being leveled in the school because they are being deprived from getting the education that they need. There are students in the video that complain that they are put in the lower levels and the teachers and administrators of the schools think that they are not capable of doing work that the higher level students are doing. One of the students says that there is a “race division” in the school. No matter how unfair the tracking system is, it’s not going to be changed because everyone is used to it. While I was watching the video, there were some quotes that came up that interest me. One of the quotes in the video says, “For a school to be culturally responsive, the curriculum has to reflect the various cultures within its student body…the curriculum has to reflect its student body, its town, its world.” This quote caught my attention because students should be able to feel connected with the curriculum being taught to them. To feel connected, the student must relate to what they are being taught. That is where the teachers come in. The teacher doesn’t only need to stick with what is written in a textbook. If the teacher is about to make the student visualize the topic through things that is current in their lives, the students would be more likely to understand what is being said to them. Students always wonder about how they can relate with what the teacher is teaching them. They become bored when they see the teacher continues to lecture them. There are students that don’t mind the lecture because they feel as if they need to listen to the lecture to get a good grade. Some students struggle with the curriculum because they aren’t interested in what the teacher is telling them. Because they aren’t interested, they tend not to pay attention which leads to them not doing well in school. In Montclair High School, the students that are affected by tracking struggle to keep up their grades no matter what level they are in. The students in the lower levels want to be able to connect with the curriculum they are being taught just like the students in the higher levels. In the article, “Unequal Outcomes, Unequal Opportunities: Closing the Achievement Gap in Berkeley”, Pedro Noguera talks about the negative outcomes of tracking in Berkeley High School in California. The students at Berkeley are separated because for a long time the school has been putting the students through a tracking system that isn’t necessary. Noguera says in the article that there are two schools within one school. There are different academic levels in the school which separates the students racially and economically. The upper level students consist of majority white students, Asians, and students of high economic status. The African American, Latinos, and low income students are in the lower levels. As we can see, the minority groups have always struggled in the education aspect. It is not like they aren’t capable of doing the same work the upper level students are doing. Some students are placed in those lower levels because of standardized testing. Some are put in the lower levels because they are so used to being so they don’t even try to perform well in school. Some of the students don’t even have someone to fight for the right for them to get equal education and say that they don’t deserve to be in those levels. This causes them to have a disadvantage and the problems stay the same. The students in Berkeley high has gotten used to the fact the African American and Latino has always trailed behind the White students when it comes with school. People assume that because the minority students come from families that have low incomes and some have families that don’t have that much education, they automatically think they are incapable of being in a higher level. Due to that assumption, Black and Latino students tend not try to prove them wrong. They feed into the assumption and they give up on trying to do better than what they are expected of them. As for the teachers and the parents, they don’t give any effort in trying to change what’s going on. They just leave it alone and go by “it’s normal” excuse while the percentage of minorities passing school decreases each year. The White students in Berkeley High School have more of an advantage then most of the Black, Latino and other minority groups. The white students have the support of the teachers and their parents. The parents has gone to teacher parent meetings, board meetings and just been involved with their child’s academics. While the minorities choose electives like sports or art, white students and their parents choose electives like a language or another math or English course. They get themselves well prepared for college intellectually and graduate on top of their class. They have opportunities in front of them because the white students have teachers and parents that take the time to invest more in their future. The Black and Latino students don’t have as much support as they are supposed to for them to do better. That is why some of the minority students lack motivation and confidence in themselves to do better in school and achieve an education. It is up to the teachers and parents that care to step up and try to change the system of the school. Minority parents are misrepresented in the school because they don’t participate in the school forums and meetings. That is why teachers need to step and get some of the parents together and demand a change for the students so the students can graduate and be well prepared for college.

Tracking is a very serious issue in schools today. I went through the tracking system which was horrible for me. I had AP courses and some regular courses, however, I had to try the best that I could in order for me to do better. My parents didn’t finish college, however, they were smart enough to help me with through school and motivate me. When reading the article and watching the video, I automatically thought about when I was in high school. The upper students had majority white students. There were Asian, Black, and Latinos in the upper level but there were a small percentage of them. The students in the level that were average had more of a mixed amount of student, however, more minorities. The lower levels were majority Black, Latino and a small percentage of white students that came from low income families. My school was very diverse because everyone was friends with everyone, however, academically, you could see the division between the students. It wasn’t fair to a lot of the students because many students were deprived from learning certain things because of the level they were in. Just like in Berkeley and in Montclair, it seems like something that was normal because we all got used to it. Every student should be able to learn as much as they want. They shouldn’t be limited in what they are learning because of the level they are in, racial background or economic status. At the end of the day, everyone is going to have to experience how the real world is and everyone needs an education in order to get where they are going. And in the world, there are no limits in how much you can learn so there shouldn’t be a limit in school.

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