The Other Side of the Track: Curriculum Tracking and the Pathway to Delinquency

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Title: The Other Side of the Track: Curriculum Tracking and the Pathway to Delinquency
Author: Febbo-Hunt, Maria
Advisors: Catherine Zimmer, Committee Chair
L. Richard Della Fave, Committee Member
Rodney L. Engen, Committee Member
William R. Smith, Committee Member
Abstract: This dissertation examines whether school track location contributes to involvement in juvenile delinquency. First, I hypothesized both a direct and an indirect effect of track location on involvement in juvenile delinquency. Second, I hypothesized grade point average (GPA) would be negatively related to involvement in delinquency. Lastly, I hypothesized peer exposure would affect involvement in delinquency. Specifically, youth located in a non-academic track, with lower grades, and higher levels of negative peer exposure will be more likely to engage in delinquency. Using the National Longitudinal Survey of Youth 1997 and employing Poisson and Negative Binomial regression techniques, I found the following. There are no significant direct effects of tracking on delinquency for the multivariate models. Further analyses show there are indirect, negative effects, via GPA, of being in the general/college-prep and the combination track versus the vocational track on rates of committing additional types of property offending. Youth in the general/college-prep track earn higher grades relative to students in the vocational track, who, in turn, have lower rates of engaging in additional property offenses. For the remaining three delinquency models, there appear to be no indirect effects of tracking via grade point average. For status, violent and overall offending, exposure to negative peers results in higher rates of committing additional types of offending. For property offending, there is only an indirect effect of negative peers on offending. What does this study have to say about schooling and delinquency? First, academic achievement matters with respect to involvement in delinquency. Second, there is evidence that track location has an indirect effect on the commission of additional types of property offenses. Combined other research findings illustrating other undesirable outcomes of tracking, we must ask, "Is this structuring of students worth the cost relative to the pedagogical benefits?" Further research is warranted to fully answer this question, thus I advocate bringing tracking 'back in' to comprehensive studies of juvenile delinquency.
Date: 2003-04-30
Degree: PhD
Discipline: Sociology

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