Students at a high school in Florida are now “tracked” by grade-point average, attendance and other data points in a program that determine where they can eat lunch and whether they get other perks as well.

FOX 13 in Pasco County reported that Hudson High School officials recently started the program with the belief that it will encourage students not deemed to be on track to step up their performance, though some students told the news station that that wasn’t likely to happen.

Students at Hudson are deemed to be “on track” if they have, among other things, a grade-point average of at least 2.0 with no F’s and no more than four absences from any class. Such a designation – which comes with an ID and wristband – allows students to eat outside the cafeteria and awards them special things, such as free admission to sporting events.

Those students considered to be essentially off track must stay in the cafeteria for the entire lunch period, according to the station. Students told FOX 13 that the lunchroom has been overcrowded, with some students forced to sit on the floor, because even students allowed to leave the school aren’t.

School officials did not return phone calls and emails to discuss the new program.

The idea of using grades or perceived ability to track students is hardly new. Tracking students, or grouping them in class according to ability, was popular several decades ago. The practice fell out of favor when opponents of the practice said that lower- and low-achieving students actually do better when they are paired with higher-achieving students.

And critics charged that low-achieving students, who were commonly from low-income families and minorities, were often shortchanged by teachers who did not have high expectations for them.

Categories: Education