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ABILITY GROUPING Stephanie Kragness & Haley Kostrba.

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1 ABILITY GROUPING Stephanie Kragness & Haley Kostrba

2 WHAT IS ABILITY GROUPING/TRACKING Definition: grouping of students according to ability: the practice of grouping students according to their level of academic skills, allowing a teacher to provide a uniform level of instruction to an entire group Encarta® World English Dictionary [North American Edition] © & (P)2007 Microsoft Corporation. All rights reserved. Developed for Microsoft by Bloomsbury Publishing Plc.

3 LET’S TAKE A VOTE! Without discussing this with your neighbor please raise your hand if you would incorporate ability grouping into your classroom.

4 TYPES OF GROUPING Ability Grouped Class Assignment - students are placed in one self-contained class based on ability or achievement. Regrouping for Reading or Math - students are sorted into ability groups for one or two subjects, only. Joplin Plan - students are sorted across grade levels for reading instruction. Non-graded Plan - students are placed in groups according to performance not age. Within-class Ability Grouping - based on ability students are assigned to small groups within a class.

5 WHY USE ABILITY GROUPING? In theory, ability grouping increases student achievement by reducing the disparity in student ability levels. Teachers can provide instruction that is neither too easy nor too hard for most students. (Zone of proximal development) Allows the teacher to increase the pace and raise the level of instruction for high achievers, and Provides more individual attention, repetition, and review for low achievers. The high achievers benefit from having to compete with one another, and the low achievers benefit from not having to compete with their more able peers. Slavin, Robert E. ABILITY GROUPING AND STUDENT ACHIEVEMENT IN ELEMENTARY SCHOOLS: A BEST-EVIDENCE SYNTHESIS. Baltimore, MD: Center for Research on Elementary and Middle Schools, 1986

6 An Interview with Anne Wheelock, author of Crossing the Tracks: How “Untracking” Can Save America’s School”. Why is tracking harmful? The criteria we use to group kids are based on subjective perceptions and fairly narrow views of intelligence. Tracking leads students to take on labels — both in their own minds as well as in the minds of their teachers — that are usually associated with the pace of learning (such as the "slow" or "fast" learners). Because of this, we end up confusing students' pace of learning with their capacity to learn. We associate students' placement with the type of learners they are and therefore create different expectations for different groups of students. Once students are grouped, they generally stay at that level for their school careers, and the gap between achievement levels becomes exaggerated over time. The notion that students' achievement levels at any given time will predict their achievement in the future becomes a self-fulfilling prophecy.

7 A WAY TO DETRACK. Cooperative Learning –All students in a group learn the same coursework together and share responsibility for the success or failure of their group work. –Students have the opportunity to learn for one another. –It emphasizes active interaction between students of diverse ability and backgrounds. Alternatives to Ability Grouping: Still Unanswered Questions. ERIC/CUE Digest Number 111. Ericdigests.org/1996/ability.htm

8 DISCUSS In small groups use this information to discuss ability grouping and if you will incorporate ability grouping in your classroom. Why/Why not?

9 TEACHER TESTIMONIES I use ability grouping at the middle school level for math on my sixth grade team. I find ability grouping to be beneficial and appropriate for math at this level. Students have such varied levels of skills in this content area, that I've found it difficult to teach in a heterogeneously grouped class. To eliminate the problems often associated with ability grouping, we make sure that these groups only affect math class. To do this every teacher on my team teaches math to a leveled group of students at the same time, that way tracking does not occur. - - M.R. I have been teaching school for ten years. I have taught 5th and 6th grade in three different states. I have found that ability grouping may help the class run smoother and definitely makes my job easier. What I have found for the children is in some cases it can be very demeaning. –Valarie Mnds I don't believe in tracking. I think this just sets kids up to fail. I think that a class should include students with a variety of levels, but they can be put into groups for a variety of subjects. Students should never been in the same groups. Sometimes the groups can be made up of students having trouble with the same topic or sometimes groups can be made of students who understand the topic and those that don't. Students should have the opportunity to excel, they shouldn't be put into a group where they feel they're not good enough. –S. Davila Interested in more testimonies???

10 Bibliography Encarta® World English Dictionary [North American Edition] © & (P)2007 Microsoft Corporation. Alternatives to Ability Grouping: Still Unanswered Questions. ERIC/CUE Digest Number 111. Ericdigests.org/1996/ability.htm Slavin, Robert E. ABILITY GROUPING AND STUDENT ACHIEVEMENT IN ELEMENTARY SCHOOLS: A BEST-EVIDENCE SYNTHESIS. Baltimore, MD: Center for Research on Elementary and Middle Schools, An Interview with Anne Wheelock, author of Crossing the Tracks: How “Untracking” Can Save America’s School”. Tracking (education) Wikipedia® is a registered trademark of the Wikimedia Foundation, Foundation,


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