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?
  • Who influenced students' choices in high school programs?