Publication Date



Open access

Degree Type


Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy (PHD)


Sociology (Arts and Sciences)

Date of Defense


First Committee Member

Jomills Henry Braddock II

Second Committee Member

Seth J.Schwartz

Third Committee Member

Marvin P. Dawkins

Fourth Committee Member

Robert Moore


Data from the National Educational Longitudinal Study (NELS: 88) are used to examine differential student placement and to assess the independent effects of race on academic tracking within the vocational program. The study examines how the structure of tracking within the vocational program shapes both academic achievement outcomes and career opportunities among high school students. Student's placement in the vocational program is argued to function as a unique track program that disadvantage students academically, particularly students of color. Racial-ethnic minority students are disproportionately placed into lower level academic courses and programs including vocational education. Once so placed, their subsequent enrollment patterns in specific vocational courses may have varying effects on academic and career outcomes. Few studies have attempted to disaggregate how students are further tracked once they are placed into broad high school curriculum tracks. This study analyzes the specific variations in patterns of race-ethnic student placement within vocational programs and examines the consequences of such placement for academic achievement and career attainment outcomes. Findings reveal that several racial-ethnic variations are associated with the tracking processes within the vocational program and subsequent student academic and career outcomes. Race-ethnicity most often was negatively associated with performance on standardized achievement tests and enrollment into low vocational tracks, primarily among males. There were noteworthy gender differences in the assignment within vocational tracks, academic success, and eventual employment status and occupational placement.


Race; Academic Tracking; Vocational Education