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Policy and Research Issues: Course-taking Patterns and Opportunities

Policy Questions:

  1. How do course-taking patterns and opportunities vary within and among schools?

    • What are the patterns of course-taking in different high schools and postsecondary institutions?
    • What are the levels and types of grouping and tracking in high schools?
    • How does course-taking vary between these groups and tracks within a school?
    • What is the role of student choice in course-taking?
    • What are the relative influences of student, teacher, principal, counselor, and parental choices or recommendations in determining course-taking sequences?
    • To what degree do course-taking patterns influence cognitive growth and persistence in high school and postsecondary education?
    • What impact does tracking or ability grouping have on students' social lives (e.g. friendships, peer influences, out of school activities)?
    • What impact does tracking or ability grouping have on teachers’ expectations of their students?
    • How much opportunity is there for students to move between tracks/classes/program levels?
    • What is the relative importance of formal and informal processes in determining course-taking sequences or tracking assignments?


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