There was an interesting story on NPR the other day on how tracking plays out in one middle class community.
Here's the link, and I suggest you listen to the story rather than simply read it.
My friend in Pittsburgh described to me his daughter's high school. It's an "urban" school, and it has metal detectors and the kinds of rules you primarily find in large urban schools. However, the neighborhood they live in is a middle class neighborhood, and in an effort to keep the middle class in the city, and in the school system, this is what tracking looks like in her school.
The top level has an average of 18 kids in each class.
The second level has closer to 22-25 kids in each class.
The third tier has close to 30 kids in each class.
The lowest tier? Over 30 kids in each class.
Guess which classes have the most white kids?
Guess which classes have the most middle and upper middle class kids?
And who, he asked me, needs the small class size?
Summary: Tracking is great for the kids at the top.
For everyone else, it's not so hotsy-totsy, and it's not so ai-yai-yai.