Beth C. Rubin
Beth: What's your hardest class do you think?
Tiffany: 1 History. It's so boring and I feel so stupid … I hate history.
There are times I just want to slap some of my friends … I'll be like "Why do you act so ignorant? We are being oppressed because of the fact we're black and you're making us look bad." Because they'll just say stupid things and I'm like "Save that for when you're with your friends and you want to act stupid. Don't have me looking bad because of you."
It's a life thing … You always learn in school. That's kind of the way it is. But [what] you're going to remember is going to be all the relationships. All the different people you worked with and how to work with those people. You're going to carry that a lot longer than you are how to find the area of a triangle or something.
"Tracking," the sorting and grouping of students by perceived ability and the corresponding curriculum differentiation that results, is a widespread practice in the United States. Many educational researchers link tracking to the reinforcement and perpetuation of inequalities in educational attainment along race and class lines (e.g. Oakes, 1985; Slavin, 1988; Mehan et al., 1994). Recognizing tracking as a potential barrier to educational equity, a number of schools have attempted to "detrack," consciously organizing students into academically heterogeneous classrooms. It seems simple. Tracking creates inequity; therefore detrack to reverse this inequity. This chapter suggests the matter is not quite so simple.
This chapter follows three girls, 2 classmates in a detracked ninth grade English-History core 3 program, through their first year at Cedar High School. As Kiana, Tiffany, and Sasha entered the ninth grade, each brought