The Return of Ability Grouping

iVillage Member
Registered: 05-15-2009
The Return of Ability Grouping
7
Mon, 06-10-2013 - 12:22pm

Interesting story in the NY Times yesterday:  http://www.nytimes.com/2013/06/10/education/grouping-students-by-ability-regains-favor-with-educators.html?hp&_r=0

Classrooms all over the country are returning to grouping students based on ability.  Proponents say that that grouping students by ability helps educators cope with a wide variety of ability levels and achievement while opponents say it traps poor and minority students in low-level groups.

What do you think about ability grouping?  Do you think it's a beneficial practice?

iVillage Member
Registered: 06-04-2003
Mon, 06-10-2013 - 3:19pm

The latter is true. In my vast experience it has never worked!! 

Oh and did I mention 13 year olds don't belong in the 5th grade. Regardless of their skills. There has to be a way to brigde the gap without misleading these kids and parents.

Ruth

iVillage Member
Registered: 06-04-2003
Mon, 06-10-2013 - 3:20pm
I keep trying to post and nothings happening.
iVillage Member
Registered: 06-04-2003
Mon, 06-10-2013 - 3:21pm
This is crazy. No ability grouping doesnt work.
iVillage Member
Registered: 01-21-2011
Mon, 06-10-2013 - 6:54pm

Everything in education comes around again. There are no magic bullets, but ability grouping has been alive and well for some time, but it's just not discussed much. Reading levels alone in the classroom are signs of ability grouping. Tiered classes in high school and intermediate school are ability groups. I like that it's now okay to say that it's out there again since it never really went away. 

Build your own free website for your family pictures! www.totsites.com
iVillage Member
Registered: 12-04-2000
Tue, 06-11-2013 - 5:56pm

I've seen it work. We adopted it in a school where I taught years ago. During the first year our top group gained almost 2 years in one year. The middle ones gained more than a year and our lowest students gained right at a year for the first time in their six years of education. We took 6th graders performing at third to fourth grade level, or lower in some cases, and they made great improvements. It helped their confidence because they did not have the brightest ones there to intimidate them or show them daily how far behind they were. The second year showed even better growth. We grouped for reading, language arts, math and social studies and taught core skills. We also had individualized and small group remediation/reinforcement sessions each day. Since then I've taught in two other schools that had similar grouping schemes. All were successful.

 

Sherry
Community Leader
Registered: 07-16-2001
Fri, 06-28-2013 - 10:42am

I am all for ability grouping, but I teach with someone who is far too concerned about their "feelings" and less concerned with actually teaching the kids what they need to know.  It's not beneficial to teach a kid who can't add how to multiply.  Right now, we just pull kids out into small groups to remediate, but how great would it be if we could actually teach children at their level so that they can actually learn what they need to?  As teachers, we're supposed to give kids what they need to learn.  If a child needs to be taught at a lower level, or at a higher level, why should we deny them that? 

 

iVillage Member
Registered: 12-04-2000
Mon, 07-01-2013 - 12:42pm

Shy: I agree. We are so busy teaching the test that we try to give kids only what we need for the test and we fail to help them build the skills and develop the understanding they need to actually perform and use the skills. Your multiplication example is perfect. They can learn to go through the steps with some accuracy to do it on paper for an assignment or two but they can not understand and analyze what is expected and why once they move on to the next skill in the book. When test time comes they have forgotten most of what is required to apply the multiplication skill on the test and even if they remember the steps they don't know the addition or multiplication facts to perform the work within the time limits of the test.

When we ability grouped and tested for growth we took the time to build the scaffold so they gained confidence that encouraged them to work successfully. We also addressed individual weaknesses with individual or small group remediation. Now we only focus on getting the test scores and teach skills in isolation.  We are too focused on drill and practice and forget the analysis and application part.  We rush through skills to prep for the test.  Remediation is really test review. I saw much more real growth in ability and confidence when we taught what they needed in a way that helped them practice, understand and use the skill in meaningful ways. Now we don't have the time becasue the test scores are more important than individualization and specific needs.

Sherry