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Updated by Alisha Oetting on Jul 09, 2015
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Ability Grouping in Math

Research Spotlight on Academic Ability Grouping

The educational practice of ability grouping emerged around the turn of the 20th century as a way to prepare students for their "appropriate" place in the workforce (Cooper, 1996). Students with high abilities and skills were given intense, rigorous academic training while students with lower abilities were given a vocational education.

From time to time, Education World reposts a previously published article that we think might be of interest to administrators. Before reposting, we update all links and add new resources to the articles. We hope you find this archived article to be of value Logic, emotion, and research often clash in the longstanding debate over the advantages and disadvantages of ability grouping (tracking).

Hot Topic:Does Ability Grouping Help or Hurt?A Talk with Anne Wheelock Grouping students by ability is one of the most talked-about topics in education. Does it benefit students? Inhibit their learning? Not matter? To bring you this report, Senior Editor Meg Bozzone spoke to Anne Wheelock, author of Crossing the Tracks: How "Untracking" Can Save America's Schools (New Press, 1992).

The Resurgence of Ability Grouping and Persistence of Tracking

This study examines the use of ability grouping and tracking in America's schools. Recent NAEP data reveal a resurgence of ability grouping in fourth grade and the persistent popularity of tracking in eighth-grade mathematics. These trends are surprising considering the vehement opposition of powerful organizations to both practices.

Grouping Students by Ability Regains Favor With Educators

It was once common for elementary-school teachers to arrange their classrooms by ability, placing the highest-achieving students in one cluster, the lowest in another. But ability grouping and its close cousin, tracking, in which children take different classes based on their proficiency levels, fell out of favor in the late 1980s and the 1990s as critics charged that they perpetuated inequality by trapping poor and minority students in low-level groups.

Setting the Record Straight on Ability Grouping

First Person If committed educators could be easily trained to implement a low-cost intervention that boasted consistent learning gains for all students, headlines would herald the discovery of the educational holy grail. That low-cost intervention is here and readily available. It's called ability grouping.

Ability Grouping |

Information on education and child development for parents and educators. Within-Class Grouping Between-Class Grouping Ability grouping is the practice ...

Flexible grouping is not a new concept in American education. It has its roots in the original one-room rural schoolhouse where students of varying ages, backgrounds, and abilities were grouped and regrouped to meet instructional needs. As towns and cities grew and universal education became a national goal, ways of grouping students changed.

The Effects of Grouping and Curricular Practices on Intermediate Students' Math Achievement-NRC/GT

Researchers are aware that grouping students by prior knowledge may result in moderate gains in intermediate grade students' mathematics achievement. Despite this research, many teachers continue to teach the way they were taught: one curriculum for all students regardless of students' readiness. Additionally, researchers have raised concerns about the effects of flexible grouping on students' self-esteem.

Flexible Grouping as a Differentiated Instruction Strategy

Teachers are discovering that grouping and regrouping students in a variety of ways throughout the school day actually makes their job easier, and makes their students more productive. Flexible grouping is more than just moving a students' seat, it is practical way to differentiate as learning needs dictate.

Flexible grouping is essential in the differentiated classroom. It is one of the basic teaching strategies for differentiating instruction. Individualizing for every student in every learning area every day is simply not possible or feasible. Therefore, one of the best and most practical ways to differentiate is through flexibly grouping students in a variety of ways, changing groupings as learning needs dictate.

Sorting kids at school: the return of ability grouping

Ravell Call, Deseret News If there's a label that sticks to Mark Bowden today, it's probably "world-famous writer," or maybe "authority on modern warfare." But when the author of the book "Black Hawk Down" was in grade school during the 1960s, his brilliance wasn't so easy to spot.

Why grouping students by ability makes sense

A recent post by Joanne Yatvin argued against ability groupings of students, saying: Teaching to the presumed level of a whole class never works as well as hoped because students still have significant differences in work habits, paces of learning, and outside of school experiences.

Let's Go Back to Grouping Students by Ability

solgas/Shutterstock Is it my imagination, or have you noticed that some public high school courses that are now called "honors" are equivalent to the regular "college prep" curriculum of earlier eras? And have you also noticed that what is now called "college prep" is aimed largely at students who are deemed low achievers or of low cognitive ability?

The Pros & Cons of Ability Grouping in Elementary Schools

Ability grouping first appeared in American education in the 1920s when the use of mental testing was a valued indicator of potential student performance. At the elementary level, ability grouping is ...

ERIC Identifier: Publication Date: Author: Source: Ability grouping of students is one of the oldest and most controversial issues in elementary and secondary schools. Hundreds of research studies have examined the effects of the two most common variants: between-class and within-class ability grouping.

Remember the Fibonacci sequence? It's a series of numbers in which each subsequent number is the sum of the previous two: 0, 1, 1, 2, 3, 5, 8, 13, 21, 34, 55, 89, and so on.

What is Direct Instruction? |

Direct instruction is an approach to teaching emphasizing small-group, face-to-face lessons. Learn about direct instruction's history and methodology.