Slavin, Robert E.
Ability Grouping and its Alternatives: Must We Track?
Johns Hopkins University
What is the evidence about the achievement effects of ability grouping? What are the alternatives?
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Vol. 11, No. 2, pp. 32-48
- The article reviews the research on ability grouping and its alternatives.
- Slavin concludes that ability grouping is not effective in improving student achievement (zero effects at the elementary level and only slight gains at the secondary level).
- Between class re-grouping for selected subjects is more advantageous and can be instructionally effective if the instructional level and pace are appropriate to student performance levels and if the students are in heterogeneous settings except for only one or two subjects.
- The Joplin plan has had positive effects for reading achievement in elementary schools.
- Students are grouped for reading across grade levels so each reading class is likely to reflect the racial composition of the school.
- Within class grouping has been found to be effective in increasing achievement in math, but the effects cannot be assumed to hold for reading. Research has been primarily limited to math.
- Cooperative learning success in elementary and secondary schools depends on how the strategy is organized. Research has shown that cooperative learning increases student achievement in a variety of subjects and grade levels. Cooperative learning also has benefits for noncognitive outcomes. There is less segregative potential.
- These methods allow students of different race/ethnicity to work cooperatively and have been shown to improve intergroup relations in desegregated schools.
Journal Article Review of Literature
Ability Groups, Academic Achievement, Desegregation, Math, Reading, Resegregation, Tracking
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Unit of Analysis:
- The article draws from research on ability grouping. Studies include: Rothrock (1961) Kulik & Kulik (1982) Goodlad & Anderson (1963)