Date of Award


Document Type

Open Access

Degree Name

Bachelor of Arts



First Advisor

David Cotter




high school, counselor, grouping, tracking


This project investigates the role of the guidance counselor in high school tracking and ability grouping. Tracking and ability grouping are controversial topics among high schools because they can create a “school within a school” where the low-income-minority students are in lower tracks while the high-income white students are in the advanced classes. Scholars have debated if detracking, or heterogeneous grouping, is the answer, but the concern is that slower learners will hold advanced students back. When deciding which classes students should be enrolled in, teachers, parents, students, and guidance counselors all contribute their opinions. Guidance counselors play a crucial role in the scheduling process since they are the intermediary amongst students, parents, and teachers. Interviews were conducted with seven local high school guidance counselors from high, average, and low district needs-to-resources schools regarding their role in and opinions of tracking and ability grouping. Each counselor was interviewed at his or her school using a list of thirteen questions, with interviews lasting between thirty and forty-five minutes. While all of the counselors like their school’s tracking process overall, half of them would change aspects of their school’s grouping system. School-level socioeconomic status, race, and ethnicity patterns often contributed to struggles within schools, such as parent involvement, graduation rates, daily attendance, and college enrollment. Contrary to prior research, none of the counselors would ever want their schools not to group students by ability, but two of the seven counselors do not feel tracking is necessary in high schools.