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October 1, 1993
Vol. 51
No. 2

Reply / Scott Fails to Discredit Nongradedness

      Ralph Scott should read my complete research report before he disputes my conclusion that nongraded or untracked schools are beneficial for student achievement and positive mental health.
      In “The Benefits of Nongraded Schools” (Educational Leadership, October 1992), I synthesized my research. As a footnote states, complete information and references are in my recently published book. In addition, the article cites two of my earlier studies, available in most university libraries.
      While I gladly send out copies of unpublished papers, I question my responsibility to do another's library research. When I asked Scott whether he planned to obtain my book so that we could have the professional dialogue he sought, he replied that he was not sure he wanted to follow up, due to other time commitments.
      Turning to the substance of Scott's remarks, I see nowhere in The Economist article that tracking is mentioned. Rather, the article advocates that students should have the same educational program at least through age 15 and then should select either a university preparation or an apprenticeship program. Instead of such segregated pull-out programs, nongradedness is an inclusive program for all students.
      As for the 19 “valid and empirically strong” studies that indicate that tracking cannot be singled out as the one direct cause of achievement, the findings do not surprise me. Neither is “home background” a direct cause. The research on both Effective Schools and nongraded schools demonstrates that students of the same socioeconomic status can differ in achievement.
      Until solid evidence is presented to the contrary, I remain committed to nongradedness.
      End Notes

      1 R. J. Anderson and B. N. Pavan, (1993), Nongradedness: Helping It to Happen (Lancaster, Pa.: Technomic Press).

      Barbara Nelson Pavan has been a contributor to Educational Leadership.

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