Staying on track – how ability grouping determines future earnings

When children start school in the US, they are often divided into ability groups, and by high school this trend is formalised further, as pupils are directed onto different “tracks”. In theory, pupils are placed on tracks in order to maximise their achievement by grouping them based on ability or college orientation. Researchers have previously found that these tracks offer uneven opportunities for further achievement and success in college.

A study in Urban Education has shown how this effect persists into adulthood. The study examined the link between tracking in high school and salary income for young adults and whether these effects vary by the individual’s gender and race. Using data from the US National Education Longitudinal Study, the researchers found that educational tracking is associated with future income, independent of the quantity of education that individuals receive. The researchers suggest that it is important to inform educators, as well as parents and young people, on the long-term implications of track placement to ensure that they understand the ramifications of tracking decisions.

Source: Tracking success: High school curricula and labor market outcomes by race and gender (2012), Urban Education47(6)

The impact of Sure Start Local Programmes

This research report from the Department for Education presents findings of a longitudinal study that measures the impact of Sure Start Local Programmes (SSLPs) on seven-year-olds and their families. The study looks at over 5,000 families in 150 SSLP areas and makes comparisons with children and families in similarly disadvantaged areas that do not have an SSLP.

The results show positive effects on family functioning and maternal well-being associated with living in an SSLP area. However, no impact was found on any of the child outcomes measured. The report demonstrates that SSLPs are extremely popular and have proved to be successful in engaging and supporting the poorest families. However, greater emphasis is needed on services that will directly improve child outcomes, particularly language development and children’s daily experiences.

Source: The impact of Sure Start Local Programmes on seven year olds and their families (2012), Department for Education