A Preliminary Study on the Effect of Math Tracking on Learning: Students’ and Parents’ Thoughts


Math tracking, or ability grouping, is a practice used in mostly secondary education to place students into different math classes according to their mathematical abilities. However, the placement of students in various levels of math classrooms typically relies exclusively on adult perceptions, and the students, rarely get the chance to let the world hear their voices. In this study, we surveyed (n=40) and interviewed (n=9) students and parents to gather their thoughts on math tracking. The survey results were mixed. While more than 50% of the students reported that math tracking is stressful and preferred detracking, more than 60% of the students believed that math tracking has a positive impact on learning and motivates them to work toward more difficult courses. However, interview results revealed that the negative effect of math tracking can have significant adverse impacts on some students. One parent shared her story of transferring her child to another school due to the strain of math tracking. Overall, our interim conclusion is that schools that implement math tracking must offer additional academic and emotional support to students who might not benefit from the practice. We suggest future research on students’ stress levels across different math courses to gain more insights into how math tracking impacts students’ mental health.

Author Information
Chaeun Min, Shanghai SMIC Private School–International, China
Kawai Liu, State University of New York at Albany, United States

Paper Information
Conference: BCE2023
Stream: Primary & Secondary Education

This paper is part of the BCE2023 Conference Proceedings (View)
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To cite this article:
Min C., & Liu K. (2023) A Preliminary Study on the Effect of Math Tracking on Learning: Students’ and Parents’ Thoughts ISSN: 2435-9467 – The Barcelona Conference on Education 2023: Official Conference Proceedings https://doi.org/10.22492/issn.2435-9467.2023.34
To link to this article: https://doi.org/10.22492/issn.2435-9467.2023.34

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Posted by James Alexander Gordon