Date of Award


Degree Type


Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy (PhD)




Despite scores of studies that have shown that tracking and ability grouping perpetuate the academic achievement gap that exists in the United States, the practice continues. The reason for this persistence is a confluence of educational, social, and political factors. As tracking will continue as practice for the foreseeable future, research must help to identify the best and worst of tracking practices so that its negative effects are minimized and positive effects maximized. Oakes (2005) has identified five common elements of tracking policies and practices: extent, pervasiveness, flexibility, mobility, and locus of control. Of these elements, it is my contention that mobility is most important. A tracking system that does not allow for movement among tracks is not only morally unjust, but also unfit educational practice in a democratic country based on a capitalist, free-market economic system that aims to reward individual effort and accomplishment. This study analyzes the effect that mobility has on the achievement gap and post-secondary outcomes by examining a group of high school graduates and how their curricular mobility in high school affected their post-secondary plans. Results showed that there is no relationship between overall track mobility in high school and post-secondary outcome. There was, however, a significant association between negative mobility in English and post-secondary outcomes and a moderate association between negative mobility in math and those outcomes.

Creative Commons License

Creative Commons License
This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-Noncommercial-No Derivative Works 3.0 License.