Ability Grouping - Paper

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Trinity College

Trinity College Digital Repository
Senior Theses and Projects Student Works

4-1-2007

Ability Grouping in the Elementary Classroom and its Effects on Students’ Academic Lives Chris Olenoski
Trinity College

Follow this and additional works at: http://digitalrepository.trincoll.edu/theses Recommended Citation Olenoski, Chris, "Ability Grouping in the Elementary Classroom and its Effects on Students’ Academic Lives". Senior Theses, Trinity College, Hartford, CT 2007. Trinity College Digital Repository, http://digitalrepository.trincoll.edu/theses/43

Chris Olenoski Ed 400 Senior Research Project Trinity College, December 2006 Ability Grouping in the Elementary Classroom and its Effects on Students’ Academic Lives Introduction & Research Question: Grouping a student into a specific academic level with his/her peers of that same academic ability has become a major concern in the educational system. Ability grouping, the name for this practice at the elementary level, separates students into different groups based upon their academic achievement levels in both reading and math. The students are grouped based upon test scores they receive in these two subjects. In the case of my study here in Hartford, the schools use the Connecticut Master Test (CMT) as a way of grouping them. While at first glance ability grouping may not seem like a problem because the students are grouped with their equals, it becomes an area of concern when these students do not receive the chance to grow as a student. Scholar Gary Reglin (1992) argues that ability grouping is detrimental because of this idea of segregating students. He asserts that students of the lower levels are deprived of the equal education they deserve and as a result receive poor teaching and a lower selfesteem. Much of the research that has been done on ability grouping deems it to be a negative attribute in education and has an even greater impact toward the minority population. My study was conducted right here in Hartford and Hillside Elementary (pseudonym), my school for research, has a 98.2% minority population (Strategic School Profile 2004). This makes it difficult to pinpoint the treatment of minorities within the ability groups because each group has mainly minority students. Due to this situation I

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went into my research asking, what is the perception of ability grouping among the students and their teachers? Also how does ability grouping shape instruction and classroom atmosphere for different groups? Hopefully this small study shed new light on the topic of ability grouping or followed what has already been concluded about ability grouping by scholars and the idea that ability has a negative effect on students’ academic lives. Ability grouping is a major example of inequalities in the educational system and needs to continually be addressed. Thesis Statement: Through observing the classrooms in the sixth grade at Hillside Elementary and interviewing the teachers it is evident that in this particular case ability grouping puts the higher grouped students at an advantage, as compared to the lower grouped students. I have observed a large disparity in the classroom atmosphere and teaching techniques provided for each group of students. The teachers’ perception of ability grouping is positive as they believe it is a good strategy for teaching. Students seem to understand that they are separated into specific groups but they do not really understand how and why they are separated. Significance for Study: The separation of students into groups and putting one group at an advantage and the other at a disadvantage is very common with ability grouping. I have had the opportunity to work in Hartford schools for the past three years and this topic always intrigued me as I have witnessed potentially smart young girls and boys be deprived of the educational opportunities they deserve and it is because they are separated into ability groups....
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