Date of Conferral
Doctor of Education (Ed.D.)
American education is built upon a cultural paradigm of equality and access. Tracking students into homogenous classes based on prior academic performance could disadvantage lower-achieving students, thereby reinforcing inequality. The problem in the study district is that homogenous tracking was implemented, yet the system had not been evaluated within the context of implementation. The purpose of this qualitative case study was to examine educators' perceptions of the practice of tracking. Bandura and Maslow's social cognitive theory provided the conceptual framework and Dewey's beliefs on social justice and a spirit of equity provided the theoretical foundation. Open-ended narrative questionnaires were disseminated to approximately 109 educators in a public school district in rural northwestern New Jersey. Ten purposefully sampled interviews were also conducted for triangulation and to reach a robust understanding of the qualitative data. The data were content-analyzed through open coding and categorizing of emergent themes. The findings indicated a gap between existing district cultural norms and both current and seminal research as educators supported the district's practice of tracking. The majority of participants stated that creating homogenous classroom settings, based upon student behavior, work ethic, and motivation, improves the instructional environment for educators. The results informed the development of a white paper for the school board and district stakeholders with policy recommendations for the local tracking model. The implications for positive social change are that these endeavors may inspire the consideration of heterogeneous grouping models to better support student learning, student self-efficacy, and equity in how students are served.