Essay on Ability Grouping

Essay on Ability Grouping

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Ability grouping is a widely spread practice used among many educators today. Between-class grouping is by far one of the most commonly used types of ability grouping. “The goal of this grouping is for each class to be made up of students who are homogeneous in standardized intelligence or achievement test scores” (Snowman, Biehler). In this type of grouping, the schools separate their students into different classes or courses. “Between-class ability grouping is where students spend most of the day in ability groups and use the same or similar curriculum substantially adjusted to their ability levels” (Ability Grouping 3). “For example, in elementary schools, students from the same grade levels may be grouped by ability for reading and mathematics instructions” (Ability Grouping 1). The students are broken down into different achievement levels: high, middle, and low.
Although the ability-grouped students learn the same amount as those students who are in mixed ability classes, there are a number of positive and negative effects between-class ability grouping has on the students and their teachers. This type of grouping has a more positive effect on the high level students. “It is known that the top 10 to 15% of these students benefit from this grouping” (Considering Individual Differences). For those students in the middle and lower levels, there is no proven effective change in their achievement level. Because of this problem, the achievement gap between high and middle to lower level students is now wider than before.
In pertinence to certain subjects such as reading or mathematics, between-class ability grouping can produce greater achievement gains than mixed-ability groups. However, a common problem with between-class grouping is that the students in one group have little or no contact with others students outside their group. Yet another problem they are faced with is “teachers’ expectations and the quality of instruction are often lower for the low-ability groups” (Considering Individual Difference). It is shown that teachers instructing one specific level educate differently from one another in the classroom. In addition, teachers who have low ability students are not as organized with their lesson plans and they often use different strategies to get their lesson across to their students. A final problem with this type of grouping is that studen...


... middle of paper ...


...rm of ability grouping that we would choose to implement. We feel that it gives the students the chance to exercise their individualistic traits by attempting their full potential when working alongside peers on the same ability scale as they. It also gives the other students in the class (who may be behind) the opportunity to ask questions freely, and not feel unintelligent or hesitant in that they are working alongside students with the same capabilities as themselves.

References

1. Ability Grouping in Elementary Schools
http://www.ericdigests.org/pre-927/grouping.htm
Author: Hollifield, John
Publication date: 1987 revised in 2000

2. Is Ability Grouping the Way to Go---Or Should It Go Away?
Article by Gary Hopkins
Education World®
Copyright © 2004 Education World
http://www.education-world.com/a_issues/issues002.shtml
10/07/2004

3. Huitt, William. Considering Individual Differences. June 1999.
www.chiron.valdosta.edu/whuitt/edpyc/grouping.html


4. Snowman, Jack. Biehler, Robert. Psychology Applied to Teaching. Houghton Mifflin
Company: Boston. 2003.


5. Westchester Institute for Human Services Research. The Balanced View: Ability
Grouping. Volume 6: #2. July 2002.


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