Ability Grouping And Tracking In Schools

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Ability Grouping and Tracking in Schools
Famous American author Mark Twain once said, “I have never let schooling interfere with my education” (The Quotations Page). School is sometimes a difficult place to learn. Teachers can’t be expected to give an individualized lesson to thirty students at once. This task increases in difficulty when not all of the students are behaving or when the students are at different levels of learning. Some schools, however, are attempting to make learning easier on both students and teachers. The methods of tracking and ability grouping are revolutionizing the way teachers teach and students learn.
Tracking and ability grouping are two separate practices, but they share many similarities. Ability grouping is used most commonly in elementary schools, while tracking is used in high schools. Both practices involve grouping students by their abilities in schools. The main difference between the practices is tracking is between classes, while ability grouping is within individual classes. Tracking, in other words, is different for every subject. Ability grouping is grouping within an individual class (Loveless).
The main arguments against tracking and ability grouping deal with the lower-level students. Critics argue that ability grouping can create a "self-fulfilling prophecy" for lower class and minority students, who tend to be placed in the lower-achieving classes or groups (Thompson). Also, some argue that the lower-level classes may not receive the same quality of instruction as higher-level classes, increasing the achievement gap (Sosnowski). To help shrink the achievement gap, teachers will often reshuffle groups when using the ability grouping method. Sometimes, teachers will give t...

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Ability grouping and tracking are practices that could greatly benefit every school system and every individual student. Lower-level students would no longer feel pressured to learn at an uncomfortable pace. They would have the opportunity to receive additional instruction on concepts that they struggle with. Higher-level students would have opportunities to learn at an accelerated rate, and they would have a chance to explore concepts in much greater depth. These students wouldn't feel like they are constantly waiting for the other students to catch up with them. American journalist Sydney J. Harris said, "The whole purpose of education is to turn mirrors into windows" (Sydney J. Harris Quote). Tracking and ability grouping can help transform our generation of mirrors into windows that can change the world with our knowledge.
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