Detracking alone is not the best means to raise student achievement. Students with different abilities, interests, and levels of motivation should be offered differentiated instruction that meets their individual needs.
Latoya was already an advanced reader when she entered 1st grade in a large, urban school district. Her teacher noticed the challenging chapter books Latoya brought to school and read with little effort. After administering a reading assessment, the school's reading consultant confirmed that Latoya was reading at the 5th grade level. Latoya's parents reported with pride that she had started to read independently when she was 3 years old and "had read every book she could get her hands on."
In the March 1998 issue of Educational Leadership, Jeannie Oakes and Amy Stuart Wells argue in their article "Detracking for High Student Achievement" that high academic standards "will also bring excellence by requiring all students to demonstrate higher levels of achievement and by providing all students with equal [emphasis added] educational opportunities while preparing a more informed citizenry and a better trained work force" (p. 38). But what about Latoya? If, as it sounds, equal means identical, will equal educational opportunities sufficiently challenge Latoya in reading?
Equal and Identical Are Not the Same