Date of Award

Spring 2014

Degree Name

Bachelor of Arts


Mathematics; Educational Studies

First Advisor

Rachel Leventhal-Weiner


Tracking, or ability grouping, is a salient feature of the American education system. As opposed to most studies on tracking which investigate student achievement and student experiences, this study investigates the role of teachers in a tracked curriculum. The goals of this study are to discover how teachers feel about tracking and to understand how teachers operate their classrooms with respect to the different ability groups. I conducted observations of tracked middle and high school mathematics classrooms and directed interviews with the teachers of these tracked classes. I found that teachers alter their language, classroom pace, quality of review, and individualized attention for each ability group and that, with the exception of pace, teachers are unaware of the alterations they make between tracks. I also found that teachers view students in the higher tracks as innately smarter than their peers in lower tracks. There are several implications of this study including the suffering of the middle-level student as a consequence of teachers’ practices and preconceived notions of intelligence.


Senior thesis completed at Trinity College for the degree of Bachelor of Arts in Educational Studies and Mathematics.