Keeping Track How Schools Structure Inequality Second Edition Jeannie Oakes

Publication date:
10 May 2005
Yale University Press
352 pages: 210 x 140mm

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Selected by the American School Board Journal as a “Must Read” book when it was first published and named one of 60 “Books of the Century” by the University of South Carolina Museum of Education for its influence on American education, this provocative, carefully documented work shows how tracking—the system of grouping students for instruction on the basis of ability—reflects the class and racial inequalities of American society and helps to perpetuate them. For this new edition, Jeannie Oakes has added a new Preface and a new final chapter in which she discusses the “tracking wars” of the last twenty years, wars in which Keeping Track has played a central role.

From reviews of the first edition:
“Should be read by anyone who wishes to improve schools.”—M. Donald Thomas, American School Board Journal
“[This] engaging [book] . . . has had an influence on educational thought and policy that few works of social science ever achieve.”—Tom Loveless in The Tracking Wars
“Should be read by teachers, administrators, school board members, and parents.”—Georgia Lewis, Childhood Education
“Valuable. . . . No one interested in the topic can afford not to attend to it.”—Kenneth A. Strike, Teachers College Record

Jeannie Oakes is Presidential Professor and Director of the Institute for Democracy Education and Access at University of California, Los Angeles.

"Keeping Track should be read by teachers, administrators, school board members and parents—and not only parents of low income, minority or failing students.  Educational practices that are harmful to some of us are ultimately harmful to all of us."—Georgia Lewis, Childhood Education

"Not only a first-rate research analysis of a fundamental educational problem, but also a critically important depiction of our contemporary educational system."—Meyer Weinberg, Educational Studies

"A well-documented treatise designed to support the Procrustean contention that the school must be the great equalizer, not the predeterminer of individual differences."—Library Journal

"Keeping Track is an extensively researched and perceptively reasoned censure of widely accepted educational practices.  The questions it raises will undoubtedly heighten the debate over the troubling situation in American schools, though the solutions it puts forward may well be long in coming."—Dona Kesselman, Revue Franciase d'etudes Americanines

Selected by the American School Board Journal as a "Must Read"

Named one of 60 "Books of the Century" by the University of South Carolina Museum of Education for its influence on American education

"In the twenty years since the first edition of Keeping Track, Jeannie Oakes reveals a stubborn reliance on outmoded definitions of intelligence, and thusly, ‘merit.’ These conceptions tragically result in tracking structures and practices that assure the ascendancy of only a privileged few. Oakes’ revised edition grips us yet again with her forcefulness of word, evidence, and logic. To her credit, she got it right twenty years ago and she remains on target today!"—Angela Valenzuela, University of Texas at Austin

"It has long been recognized that schools play an important role in reproducing patterns of inequality in American society. In Keeping Track,we learn how this occurs. Through a compelling analysis of the sorting practice now commonly referred to as tracking, Dr. Oakes shows why schools are too often not the source of equal opportunity that we hope them to be."—Pedro Noguera, Ph.D., Professor, Steinhardt School of Education New York University

"This book sheds a disturbing new light on an already troubling situation.  All who are concerned about the present and future of our nation's schools would do well to ponder its message."—Philip Jackson, University of Chicago