How Mathematics Teachers Explain Their Placement Recommendations for Ninth Grade Students




Bright, Anita L.

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Successful completion of Algebra I is very important for all students in the United States, because it is a high-stakes, gatekeeper course that determines access to additional mathematics (and many science) courses. However, a substantial proportion of students with historically marginalized identities do not gain access to Algebra I until much later in their academic careers than their middle-class, White, English-speaking, fully able peers. This is not only an issue of tracking individual students, but is also indicative of a more profound, institutionalized set of practices. Using a purposive sample, this research highlights the ways typical teachers make tracking and student-placement decisions. Teachers in this research reported a heavy reliance on 1) their own omniscience; 2) collaboration with students and families, and 3) an intense commitment to ensure all students succeed.



Mathematics, Algebra, Placement, Tracking, Teachers, Minorities