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Ability grouping



 
 
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  #1  
Old October 29th 03, 05:56 PM
Nevermind
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Default Ability grouping

I know this will be a very unscientific survey, but I'm curious about
how common Erika's school's grouping system (see below) is these days.
Our school doesn't officially do ability grouping -- there is *no*
expectation that the work the kids're doing in reading or math will be
pegged to their individual ability at all, only to their age. It's
one-size-fits-all unless the teacher wants to differentiate on her
own.

How about your kids' elementary schools?

I had understood that ability grouping had become rare in U.S.
elementary schools, but if I'm wrong about that, then our school
district's system is much more vulnerable to criticism and parental
agitation for change.

Nevermind wrote:


Wow -- is ability grouping common in the UK? If I understand
correctly, it has been all but wiped out of public schools in the

U.S.
It sounds like wonderful common sense to me.


It sure isn't wiped out in the public schools
here. In my sons' school they ability group for math
and reading in every grade past kindergarten (except
it seems that they don't in the center based GT program,
which I suppose makes sense). They have as many groups
as they have teachers for that grade. So, this year
there are something like six first grade teachers, so
they have seven reading groups (each teacher has one,
plus there's a reading specialist) and six math groups.
The groups are relatively fluid, so children who need
to move up or down accordingly. Seems to work like a
charm.

Best wishes,
Ericka

  #2  
Old October 29th 03, 06:08 PM
dragonlady
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Posts: n/a
Default Ability grouping

In article ,
(Nevermind) wrote:

I know this will be a very unscientific survey, but I'm curious about
how common Erika's school's grouping system (see below) is these days.
Our school doesn't officially do ability grouping -- there is *no*
expectation that the work the kids're doing in reading or math will be
pegged to their individual ability at all, only to their age. It's
one-size-fits-all unless the teacher wants to differentiate on her
own.

How about your kids' elementary schools?

I had understood that ability grouping had become rare in U.S.
elementary schools, but if I'm wrong about that, then our school
district's system is much more vulnerable to criticism and parental
agitation for change.

Nevermind wrote:


Wow -- is ability grouping common in the UK? If I understand
correctly, it has been all but wiped out of public schools in the

U.S.
It sounds like wonderful common sense to me.


It sure isn't wiped out in the public schools
here. In my sons' school they ability group for math
and reading in every grade past kindergarten (except
it seems that they don't in the center based GT program,
which I suppose makes sense). They have as many groups
as they have teachers for that grade. So, this year
there are something like six first grade teachers, so
they have seven reading groups (each teacher has one,
plus there's a reading specialist) and six math groups.
The groups are relatively fluid, so children who need
to move up or down accordingly. Seems to work like a
charm.

Best wishes,
Ericka


My kids have been in 4 different elementary schools, and all of them did
at least some ability groupings for reading in the early years. Some
had ability groupings in math, but most did not.

Given that kids enter school with abilities that range from reading
fluently to barely recognizing letters, I don't see how they could NOT
do at least some ability grouping for reading. OTOH, they also enter
with all kinds of abilities (both natural and taught) in math, and most
don't do it there, leaving kids like my son bored to distraction, so I
guess they COULD have everyone in the same reading groups, too.

meh
--
Children won't care how much you know until they know how much you care

  #3  
Old October 29th 03, 06:52 PM
Sophie
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Posts: n/a
Default Ability grouping

My daughter is only in kindergarten and she goes to a DoD school. I'm not
sure about this but I know they have something where 1st and 2nd grade is
combined. It works out well cos if the younger kids have questions they can
ask the older kids, rather than wait on a busy teacher to help them. I'm
drawing a complete blank on what it's called.

--
Sophie -
TTC #4


  #4  
Old October 29th 03, 07:09 PM
H Schinske
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Posts: n/a
Default Ability grouping

wrote:

I know this will be a very unscientific survey, but I'm curious about
how common Ericka's school's grouping system (see below) is these days.


In the Seattle school system, unless you are in one of the gifted programs,
there is little in the way of grouping. Reading is generally individualized to
some extent -- in my kids' first grade class, the children were all working
through different boxes, you were on green box or red box or black box or
whatever. One of my daughters is in a 4/5 split class and is often in a
literature circle with older kids (depending on which book she chooses to read
-- the specific circles are not assigned as far as I know). There doesn't seem
to be any formal system at all for dealing with kids who are ahead in math but
not in the gifted programs, though I have heard of occasional accommodations
for a child who was WAY WAY ahead (more than two years).

I guess the above wasn't totally clear -- the gifted programs group kids by
broad ability levels in self-contained classrooms, but within those groups they
are taught at essentially one level (supposedly one year ahead of standards for
the lower-level program, and two years ahead for the upper-level).

I have occasionally heard of a particular teacher making an effort to compact
and differentiate the curriculum (see Susan Winebrenner's excellent book
_Teaching Gifted Kids in the Regular Classroom_ for an overview of how this
works), but it certainly is not the usual procedure as far as I can see.

--Helen
  #5  
Old October 29th 03, 07:28 PM
Donna Metler
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Posts: n/a
Default Ability grouping


"Nevermind" wrote in message
om...
I know this will be a very unscientific survey, but I'm curious about
how common Erika's school's grouping system (see below) is these days.
Our school doesn't officially do ability grouping -- there is *no*
expectation that the work the kids're doing in reading or math will be
pegged to their individual ability at all, only to their age. It's
one-size-fits-all unless the teacher wants to differentiate on her
own.

How about your kids' elementary schools?

I had understood that ability grouping had become rare in U.S.
elementary schools, but if I'm wrong about that, then our school
district's system is much more vulnerable to criticism and parental
agitation for change.


We aren't allowed to ability group anymore within a school. However, within
the district there are several optional schools which only take the high
performing students, and one (the one I teach at), which takes only the
lowest performing students, so I guess you could say that the district
ability groups by school, if the parents choose to take advantage of it.

This is at the elementary level-at high school, ability grouping is alive
and well, with multiple levels of the same class in anything required by the
state. A class which might be one semester or one year for high ability
students will be cut into two parts for lower ability students, and go at a
much slower pace, but with the same content.


Nevermind wrote:


Wow -- is ability grouping common in the UK? If I understand
correctly, it has been all but wiped out of public schools in the

U.S.
It sounds like wonderful common sense to me.


It sure isn't wiped out in the public schools
here. In my sons' school they ability group for math
and reading in every grade past kindergarten (except
it seems that they don't in the center based GT program,
which I suppose makes sense). They have as many groups
as they have teachers for that grade. So, this year
there are something like six first grade teachers, so
they have seven reading groups (each teacher has one,
plus there's a reading specialist) and six math groups.
The groups are relatively fluid, so children who need
to move up or down accordingly. Seems to work like a
charm.

Best wishes,
Ericka



  #6  
Old October 29th 03, 07:59 PM
toto
external usenet poster
 
Posts: n/a
Default Ability grouping

On 29 Oct 2003 09:56:48 -0800, (Nevermind) wrote:

I know this will be a very unscientific survey, but I'm curious about
how common Erika's school's grouping system (see below) is these days.
Our school doesn't officially do ability grouping -- there is *no*
expectation that the work the kids're doing in reading or math will be
pegged to their individual ability at all, only to their age. It's
one-size-fits-all unless the teacher wants to differentiate on her
own.

How about your kids' elementary schools?

I had understood that ability grouping had become rare in U.S.
elementary schools, but if I'm wrong about that, then our school
district's system is much more vulnerable to criticism and parental
agitation for change.


First some research archived on what has been done he

http://www.ed.gov/pubs/Research5/Uni...erception.html

The most common organizational arrangements adopted by
schools to handle individual differences among students are
known variously as ability grouping, tracking, and streaming
(Oakes, Gamoran, and Page 1992). Ability grouping involves
the division of academic subjects into classes or groups at
different levels for students of different abilities, which can
include both within-class and between-class grouping
(Oakes 1987). Grouping within a single classroom is most
common in elementary schools, while a wider range of
grouping plans are used in junior high and high schools
(Slavin 1990). Many comprehensive high schools place
students in classes and programs of instruction according
to their educational needs and ability. Despite this division
by ability, the students' options tend to remain open through
later years of high school and even students in lower ability
groups or classes may attend a community college or even
a four-year college (Oakes, Gamoran, and Page 1992).

In addition to ability grouping, schools use other instructional
and curricular arrangements to accommodate students of
differing ability. These include retention of a child in grade;
special education for students who have problems in school
for a variety of intellectual, emotional, or physical reasons;
and other types of special classes for children who are
identified as exceptionally able academically.

********************

Elementary Schools
At the elementary level, individual differences are most
often accommodated within the classrooms through ability
grouping that is linked to instructional variation, but there is
no nationally standardized set of categories or patterns for
grouping children (Gamoran 1989). Ability grouping typically
occurs within classes when students are divided into
several small groups, separated by level of ability for
instruction in particular subjects, especially reading.
Dividing the classroom into three or four groups is the
most common arrangement. Each subgroup receives
instruction at its own level and is allowed to progress at
its own rate (Slavin 1989). In first grade, more than 90
percent of elementary schools use within-class ability
grouping for reading, 25 percent for mathematics (Entwistle
and Alexander 1993).

Though within-class grouping is the most common form of
separation, students may also be placed in groups that cut
across classes. Between-class grouping takes two forms:
it may last for the entire day, encompassing all subjects, or
it may be used for a specific subject (Oakes et al. 1992).
When between-class grouping lasts for the entire day,
students are assigned to self-contained classes on the basis
of measures of general achievement. Students then remain
with the same group of classmates for all academic subjects.
A less extreme form of between-class grouping involves
regrouping for reading or mathematics. With this system,
students remain in classes that are heterogeneous by ability
most of the day but are regrouped for selected subjects.
For example, three fourth-grade classes in a school might
have reading scheduled at the same time. At reading time,
students might leave their heterogeneous homerooms and
go to a class organized according to reading levels
(Slavin 1989).

Another approach to between-class ability grouping is the
Joplin Plan, which involves regrouping students for reading
by ability only, without regard for grade levels (Slavin 1989).
Lastly, some schools adopt nongraded plans. This approach
involves grouping arrangements in which formal grade levels
are abolished in favor of flexible cross-age groupings for
different subjects. Where nongrading is done only in reading
or mathematics, it is essentially identical to the Joplin Plan
(Slavin 1989).

Placement in groups within the same classroom typically
determines the amount and type of instruction children receive
(Entwistle and Alexander 1993). For example, low-ability reading
groups spend relatively more time on decoding activities,
whereas more emphasis is placed on the meaning of stories
in ability groups composed of more able readers. High-ability
groups do more silent reading and when reading aloud are
interrupted less by other students or the teacher. Students
with a history of membership in high-ability groups are likely to
have covered considerably more material throughout their
elementary school years (Oakes et al. 1992).

*****************
Consequences of Ability Grouping
The impact of systems of ability grouping on students is the
subject of intense debate among educators and researchers.
Arguments in favor of ability grouping generally focus on its
effectiveness for instruction (Feldhusen 1989). Arguments
opposed to ability grouping focus on the issue of equity,
particularly as related to ethnicity and class. Many critics of
ability grouping suggest that such grouping helps to maintain
and perpetuate class status from one generation to another
in the United States by sorting children from different
backgrounds into different curricular programs (Gamoran
and Mare 1989). Opponents also argue that ability grouping
is unfair to low achievers, citing problems of peer models,
low teacher expectations, and slow instructional pace
(Braddock 1990; Rosenbaum 1976, 1980; Oakes 1985;
Gamoran and Mare 1989). Finally, other researchers suggest
that these arguments may be irrelevant because ability
grouping does not have a significant impact on achievement,
values, or other educational outcomes (Slavin 1990; Kulik
and Kulik 1982; Kulik and Kulik 1987).

*************
Rigidity of Group Placement
Students' placements by ability tend to be fixed and long-term.
Those placed in low-ability groups in elementary school are
likely to continue in these tracks in junior high school. Any
movement between tracks that does occur is most often in
a downward direction (Oakes et al. 1992).

Only 40 percent of students in American public elementary
schools are assigned to the top tracks in their schools
(Oakes 1987). In first grade, probably one-third to one-fourth
of children are placed in the bottom group in a given subject
(Entwistle and Alexander 1993). This group placement early
in their education can have important consequences for the
types of courses that will be available to students in later
years, and may dictate later placement in high-track classes
in senior high school (Oakes et al. 1992). Although decisions
made about students' placement at a particular grade seem
to have a slight effect on students' achievement, cumulative
effects of such placement do become evident in the later
years of schooling (Oakes 1987).

South Carolina passed a law to encourage the use of *acheivement
grouping* in its schools.

http://www.lpitr.state.sc.us/sess113...bills/4154.htm

I know that my children's elementary school classes were grouped
and regrouped for individual subjects, but I don't know if that is
still the case.


--
Dorothy

There is no sound, no cry in all the world
that can be heard unless someone listens ..

The Outer Limits
  #7  
Old October 29th 03, 07:59 PM
LFortier
external usenet poster
 
Posts: n/a
Default Ability grouping

Nevermind wrote:
I know this will be a very unscientific survey, but I'm curious about
how common Erika's school's grouping system (see below) is these days.
Our school doesn't officially do ability grouping -- there is *no*
expectation that the work the kids're doing in reading or math will be
pegged to their individual ability at all, only to their age. It's
one-size-fits-all unless the teacher wants to differentiate on her
own.

How about your kids' elementary schools?




I have a 5th grader and a 2nd grader, and grouping seems to
be done at the discretion of the teacher, though it is very
widely done, especially in the early grades. Teachers
usually sort the kids into reading groups K-2 and work with
the groups by ability. Some might be in chapter books, with
other groups working on the "easy reader" level. Last year
the 4th grade math teacher did a pretest and sorted the kids
at the beginning of each subject, which was the first I'd
seen math grouping. The 5th grade language arts teacher we
have this year has also done some evaluations and has the
kids working on any weak areas as needed.

HTH-
Lesley

  #8  
Old October 29th 03, 08:14 PM
Naomi Pardue
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Posts: n/a
Default Ability grouping

How about your kids' elementary schools?


Shaina's school has had ability grouping for reading and math since she was in
first grade. (She is now in 6th.) The school has mixed grade classes and, for
each class (which has 2 or 3 grades) there are, typically, 4-6 different groups
for reading and math. (Kids from multiple classes will be clustered together,
so Shaina's math and reading teachers will not necessarily be her regular
classroom teacher.)

The top level classes, incidently, constitute the school's 'gifted program.'


Naomi
CAPPA Certified Lactation Educator

(either remove spamblock or change address to to e-mail
reply.)
  #9  
Old October 29th 03, 08:16 PM
Clisby
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Posts: n/a
Default Ability grouping



Nevermind wrote:
I know this will be a very unscientific survey, but I'm curious about
how common Erika's school's grouping system (see below) is these days.
Our school doesn't officially do ability grouping -- there is *no*
expectation that the work the kids're doing in reading or math will be
pegged to their individual ability at all, only to their age. It's
one-size-fits-all unless the teacher wants to differentiate on her
own.

How about your kids' elementary schools?

I had understood that ability grouping had become rare in U.S.
elementary schools, but if I'm wrong about that, then our school
district's system is much more vulnerable to criticism and parental
agitation for change.


Nevermind wrote:



Wow -- is ability grouping common in the UK? If I understand
correctly, it has been all but wiped out of public schools in the


U.S.

It sounds like wonderful common sense to me.



It sure isn't wiped out in the public schools
here. In my sons' school they ability group for math
and reading in every grade past kindergarten (except
it seems that they don't in the center based GT program,
which I suppose makes sense). They have as many groups
as they have teachers for that grade. So, this year
there are something like six first grade teachers, so
they have seven reading groups (each teacher has one,
plus there's a reading specialist) and six math groups.
The groups are relatively fluid, so children who need
to move up or down accordingly. Seems to work like a
charm.

Best wishes,
Ericka




My daughter attends a small private school, so this might not be the
type of experience you were asking about. But I'll offer it anyway.

Her school has multi-age classes - so her classmates range from
kindergarten to 3rd grade (she's a 2nd-grader.) I believe there are 10
kids but it might be 11; they won't take more than 12 in a class.
Because of the age range, there have to be ability groupings, at least
for reading/math/language arts. These don't necessarily coincide with
"grade levels".

In science and social studies, the whole group might be studying one
particular unit, but the older kids obviously are given more difficult
assignments.

As I think about it, what happens in my daughter's school seems somewhat
similar to what Jenrose described, although she was talking about a
public school.

There isn't any "gifted" program at this school. Since the SOP is to
accommodate individual children's abilities and learning styles, there
really isn't a need for one. I'm not talking about children like
Marjorie's son - I can well imagine it's incredibly tough to find the
right situation for children who are profoundly gifted. While I
haven't had my daughter tested, I'm betting she's BG (barely gifted).
My husband has tested at 135 IQ and I've tested at 134; from observing
my daughter, I'd bet she's right there in the neighborhood with us,
which wouldn't be surprising. Her school has been able to accommodate
her needs very well, simply because they don't expect all children in a
class to do the same work or progress at the same speed.

I don't know of any public school in Atlanta that works this way. And
yes, I guess I could get out and be an activist and try to get that
changed, in all the spare time I have left over from raising 2 children
and working full time. Or I could say (and I do) - screw it - I
shouldn't *have* to fight to get my daughter a decent education. I'll
pay the taxes without whining, and then pay for the private school.


Clisby






  #10  
Old October 29th 03, 08:25 PM
toto
external usenet poster
 
Posts: n/a
Default Ability grouping

On Wed, 29 Oct 2003 13:52:43 -0500, "Sophie"
wrote:

My daughter is only in kindergarten and she goes to a DoD school. I'm not
sure about this but I know they have something where 1st and 2nd grade is
combined. It works out well cos if the younger kids have questions they can
ask the older kids, rather than wait on a busy teacher to help them. I'm
drawing a complete blank on what it's called.


My children's classes were team taught - the classes were 1st-2nd
combinations, 3rd-4th combinations and 4th -5th combinations, but
that did not mean that they had two teachers in a single classroom
though.

They had homeroom with one teacher and they switched teachers for
different subjects so one teacher taught language arts/social studies
and the other taught math/science and then they also had special
teachers for music, art and gym.


--
Dorothy

There is no sound, no cry in all the world
that can be heard unless someone listens ..

The Outer Limits
 




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