Ability Grouping?

     In recent years, it had become taboo in schools to group children according to performance and ability. There is no Minnow math group for struggling students. Nor is there a Shark math group for those students light years ahead in their math skills. Grouping has become a thing of the past…and full of negative connotations to boot.

ability grouping

     The overwhelming view is that assigning groups is a disservice to children and prevents growth out of assigned groups. Conversely, non-grouping allows struggling students to learn from their peers.

     However, according to an article by Vivian Yee in the New York Times (Grouping Students by Ability Regains Favor in Classroom), teachers have begun speaking out in favor of grouping. Without establishing proper groups, teachers say, only the middle of the road students have their needs met. Essentially, teaching is aimed to the middle 1/3 of the class and leaves both the high achieving and struggling students to fend for themselves.

     It seems that grouping by ability allows teachers to address specific needs of each student and to provide positive feedback for all levels of achievement across the board. This results in increased self-esteem for all students which in turn leads to greater ambition and performance.

     Change simply for change sake is not beneficial to our students. Listening to teachers about what works practically in a classroom is essential and not to be overlooked in favor of educational theorists who have never taught a group of students.

     No wonder so many of our nation’s students are now being homeschooled or learning online where their individual needs can be met and the praise and positive reinforcement doled out freely and frequently!

What do you think about grouping in the classroom?

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