Ability Grouping

Learn more about the practice of grouping students according to their academic skills, either by tracking or within-class grouping
Vector illustration showing a male and two females carrying large numbers and math symbols.
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Mathematics From Our Research Center Math Teachers and Math Ed. Professors Don't See Eye to Eye on Best Practices
Two EdWeek Research Center surveys reveal a disconnect between math education theory and the methods teachers actually use.
Sarah Schwartz, October 13, 2023
6 min read
Two elementary age school children leaning in to read a book. Young blonde Caucasian girl is wearing a pink top and young Asian brunette girl is wearing a blue button-up blouse.
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Reading & Literacy Download An Evidence-Based Approach to Classroom Reading Groups
Leveled reading groups aren't the most effective way to support student needs—but that doesn't mean avoiding grouping altogether.
Sarah Schwartz & Laura Baker, August 24, 2023
1 min read
Point Roberts Elementary School teacher Jessie Hettinga works with a group of first, second and third graders on reading at the school in Point Roberts, Wa., on Sept. 28, 2017.
Point Roberts Elementary School teacher Jessie Hettinga works with a group of first, second, and third graders on reading at the school in Point Roberts, Wash., on Sept. 28, 2017.
Philip A. Dwyer/The Bellingham Herald via AP
Reading & Literacy Classroom Reading Groups: What Works and What Doesn't
Studies show that leveled reading groups don't support struggling students. So what should grouping look like in the reading classroom?
Sarah Schwartz, August 15, 2023
10 min read
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Reading & Literacy What the Research Says Classroom Reading Groups: 5 Lessons From Recent Studies
Reading groups can widen learning gaps if they're not used effectively.
Sarah D. Sparks, March 2, 2022
7 min read
Teaching What Teachers Want: 'Looping,' Grouping by Ability, and Digital Devices, Survey Says
Educators for Excellence asked 600 teachers about instruction during the school shutdowns, their perspectives on remote learning, and concerns for next school year.
Sarah Schwartz, May 28, 2020
5 min read
African American Girl holding book and reading in an elementary school lesson
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Reading & Literacy Are Classroom Reading Groups the Best Way to Teach Reading? Maybe Not.
Recent studies raise some hard questions about the value of ability-based reading groups.
Sarah D. Sparks, August 26, 2018
7 min read
School Climate & Safety Opinion Ability Grouping: Better for Students or Easier for Schools?
I never worked harder in or out of the classroom than I did when preparing and presenting two lessons per class. Yet despite my diligence, ability grouping was ineffective, as reflected in students' actions and words: "You are too bogus Coach G. You know Group A is not that smart and Group B is smart, and you separate us so we look dumb. All of us should be in the same group to help each other out."
David Ginsburg, June 1, 2016
6 min read
College & Workforce Readiness Career-Tech Linked to Graduation Boost—But Not Tracking
Contrary to public perceptions, students are not being tracked into CTE programs, concludes a study of Arkansas schools.
Catherine Gewertz, April 12, 2016
5 min read
Education Opinion Ability Grouping or Mixed Grouping: A Point of Contention?
In a recent blog post, Shirley Clarke wrote about how ability grouping doesn't work, and it raised quite a stir. I would suggest that mixed-ability grouping doesn't either, because many people use it by name alone.
Peter DeWitt, March 6, 2016
4 min read
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Classroom Technology Opinion Personalized Learning Isn't About Isolation
We must take care that ed-tech resources do not fracture classrooms into "tech-supported cubicles," writes venture capitalist Jennifer Carolan.
Jennifer Carolan, February 23, 2016
4 min read
Education Opinion Why Ability Grouping Doesn't Work
With random talk partners as the classroom set-up, students are already involved in mixed-ability learning, which is important because we need to take account of the substantial research which shows that grouping students by ability makes them less successful.
Shirley Clarke, February 15, 2016
5 min read
BRIC ARCHIVE
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School & District Management Opinion To Change Education, Change the Message
Laurene Powell Jobs' investment in model schools is not enough to alter the education landscape, writes Ron Wolk.
Ronald A. Wolk, January 5, 2016
7 min read
Equity & Diversity Classroom Biases Hinder Students' Learning
Subtle, everyday biases in the nation's classrooms pose major obstacles to academic success for low-income students and students of color.
Sarah D. Sparks, October 27, 2015
7 min read
Kaianna Kelley, an 8th grader at Harriet G. Eddy Middle School, in Elk Grove, Calif., gets a hug from counselor Sandi Peterson after turning in her application to the school’s honors program. Peterson says she has made it her mission to reach out to underrepresented students for honors and gifted classes.
Kaianna Kelley, an 8th grader at Harriet G. Eddy Middle School, in Elk Grove, Calif., gets a hug from counselor Sandi Peterson after turning in her application to the school’s honors program. Peterson says she has made it her mission to reach out to underrepresented students for honors and gifted classes.
Hector Amezcua for Education Week
Assessment Schools Seek to Diversify Gifted, Honors Classes
Gifted and honors classes are often dominated by white students from well-off families, but some districts are removing the barriers that keep out low-income students and students of color.
Sarah D. Sparks, October 27, 2015
10 min read