The Structure of opportunity in schools

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Abstract

Official school records are used to analyze the opportunity structure and selection mechanisms within a school. Critics' charges that tracking systems preclude choice and mobility are not entirely supported, but more complex and subtle mechanisms for restricting opportunity are found to operate. Moreover, the analysis discovers that even if college admissions committees wished to admit high-achieving lower-track students, the use by many high schools of a grade-weighting procedure by which lower-track students' achievements are belittled reduces their post-graduate opportunities. These findings suggest that customary assumptions about the influence of choice and achievement may be too simple and customary conceptual models of contest and sponsored mobility may be less appropriate for describing actual track systems than a tournament model.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)236-256
JournalSocial Forces
Volume57
DOIs
StatePublished - Sep 1978

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