Vista Trustees Vote Unanimously to Reduce High School Tracking


The Vista Unified School District Board of Trustees voted unanimously to reduce the practice of grouping students according to ability at Vista High School.

“I am not sure you could ever make tracking work,” said James Hagar, a school board member. “The reality is you end up with lots of kids misplaced and you end up with lots of kids in classes too low for their abilities.”

Opponents of segregating students by ability level, called tracking, argued that the practice denies large numbers of students--especially minority students--access to the best curriculum and a chance for higher education.

“We cannot measure what a human being can become,” said Mary Lee Huntington, a Vista parent. “We need to stop deciding who cannot make it in our society and start giving a quality education to all of our students.”


Proponents of tracking argued that students of varying abilities have different needs that require different curricula. They fear that mixing students of varying abilities would force teachers to teach at one ability level or another, cheating one of the groups.

“Tracking is the best way, short of individually tutoring each student, to meet the needs of the students’ wide range of capabilities,” said Jean Belles, a Vista mother of 12.

At present, Vista High has an honors track, a college preparatory track called A, a less rigorous track for students not going to college called B and a remedial track called C.

The reduction combines the middle two tracks--A and B--in the 10th grade to form one college-prep track. The results of that change will be evaluated at the end of the first year and might lead to reduced tracking in 11th and 12th grades also.