When children start school, they are often divided into ability groups, and by high school this trend is formalized further, as students are directed onto different tracks in the U.S.. In theory, students are placed on tracks in order to maximize their achievement by grouping them based on ability or college orientation. Researchers have previously found that these tracks offer uneven opportunities for further achievement and success in college.
Now, a study in Urban Education has shown how this effect persists into adulthood. The study examined the link between tracking in secondary school and salary income for young adults and whether these effects vary by the individual’s gender and race.
Using data from the National Education Longitudinal Study, the researchers found that educational tracking is associated with future income, independent of the quantity of education that individuals receive.
The researchers suggest that it is important to inform educators, as well as parents and youth, on the long-term implications of track placement to ensure that they understand the ramifications of tracking decisions.