Ability Level Grouping and School

What do you think of grouping students in schools according to ability level? Grouping students according to ability would mean that students would be tracked and grouped by their ability levels. Low-level learners would be grouped together while higher-level learners would be grouped together. Can you see this type of situation working? Is it beneficial to any learner at any school?

People who believe that ability level grouping is a positive thing believe that this grouping allows teachers to focus on specific instruction for a specific level of student. Supporters of ability level grouping believe that it also allows for teachers to teach at a pace that is more appropriate for that specific group of students. Teachers that are educating students that may be talented and gifted would be able to teach at quicker pace than teachers who are teaching students that are lower-level learners. Teachers of lower-level students can slow instruction so that student’s are able to follow along easier.

People who oppose ability grouping in students state that this type of grouping isn’t beneficial to students and can possibly lead to labeling of students. Even if students aren’t labeled as special education, it is obvious that students who are in the lower-level classrooms will be known as the “low” kids of the school and vice-versa with kids who are at a higher level. This label will most likely be carried with the students throughout his or her school career. Very often, opponent’s state, that students who are in the lower ability groups often stay there, seldom do these students improve and move into a higher-level group.

Can you see both sides of this issue? Many people are either very for this issue or very against it. I can see both sides and I understand both sides. Coming from a special-education background, I have to say that I know how hard it is for general education teachers to have a classroom full of accelerated learners and then have the other half of that classroom full of lower-ability learners. It isn’t easy, but you know what? That is what teaching is. Teachers who get that they will have all sorts of levels of students in their classroom and who make sure learning is able to occur on all of those levels are the most effective teachers out there.

I do know that it would be an ideal world in teaching if every student in each classroom were on the same level and had the same learning styles. It would make teaching much easier. Teachers would have to stop less to make sure all students were grasping the concept and teachers wouldn’t have to worry that advanced students aren’t bored with what is being taught.

It isn’t an ideal world, however. To me, teaching children of all levels is what teaching is about. It makes it fun and the day is certainly never boring.

What do you think? Do you think ability grouping is the way to go? Or are you against it?