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  • Print publication year: 1996
  • Online publication date: June 2012

7 - Peer Group Influences Supporting Untracking


To this point, we have reflected on the contributions that academic, social, and institutional processes make to the success of the San Diego untracking experiment. We have suggested that the cultural capital in the form of academic skills that AVID students acquire from their mentors and the social capital they receive in the form of advocacy from their sponsors contribute substantially to AVID's respectable college placement record.

For the most part, these processes operate within the walls of the school: between teachers and students, between AVID coordinators and academic teachers, counselors and administrators. To be sure, some of these processes reach out beyond the school, as when personnel from the AVID central office and coordinators interact with college faculty members and university placement officers; but for the most part, what we have taken up so far operates within the boundaries of the school.

In the next two chapters, we want to turn our attention to cultural processes that have their primary locus outside the classroom. One set of those practices, the topic of this chapter, operates between AVID students and their peer groups. Another set, the topic of the next chapter, operates between AVID students and their parents.


The poor academic performance of poor white, black, and Latino youth has recently been blamed on the actions they take that flow from their critique of the limits of the capitalist system (Willis, 1977; Weis, 1985; MacLeod, 1987; McLaren, 1989; LeCompte & Dworkin, 1991; Solomon, 1992).