Academic ability grouping

Q: Do you support academic ability grouping, even if it means groups of students may move through the curriculum at different speeds?

I support within-class academic ability grouping in grade schools for reading and math only.  Measurably positive results in ability grouping are shown in these subject areas, in multiple studies.  Both higher and lower achieving students show improvement.

In secondary schools, ability grouping by class has been the most common practice.  This proves to lead to significant improvement at higher ability levels, especially because these groups tend to advance at a rapid pace and are given more materials to study.  Low ability groups also show improvement but only if they are lead with high quality instructors.  This is an important issue:   I don’t know if studies have been done in NPS, but national studies indicate that lower ability groups are commonly lead by lower quality instructors and this results in lower achievement for these students than if they sit in unsorted classrooms.

Concerns about reduced esteem that students in lower ability groups may experience have not been borne out in studies.

In summary, I support within-class academic ability grouping in grade schools for reading and math only and between-class ability academic grouping in secondary schools if high quality instructors are available for all segregated classes.