Buttaro, Anthony, Catsambis, Sophia, Mulkey, Lynn, & Steelman, Lala
An Organizational Perspective on the Origins of Instructional Segregation: School Composition and Use of Within-Class Ability Grouping in American Kindergartens
City University of New York
Investigate the degree to which racial and ethnic composition of schools is associated with use of ability grouping practices as early as kindergarten.
Journal Name or Institutional Affiliation:
Teacher College Record
Vol. 112, No. 5, pp. 1300-1337
- The most intensive use of within-class ability grouping exists in schools that serve high proportions of minority students and in schools with high variability in students' reading readiness.
- Schools serving primarily minority students that use within-class ability grouping have higher average gains in reading achievement by the end of the school year than comparable schools that do not use this form of grouping. Use of this instructional practice is not associated with increases in average achievement gain scores for schools serving students of diverse or primarily White backgrounds.
- The most common from of ability grouping that kindergartners experience is within-class ability grouping.
- As the minority concentration of the school's student body increases, so does use of within-class ability grouping. Use of this instructional practice is highest among diverse and high-minority schools. The schools least likely to use this form of grouping in kindergarten are those serving primarily White students.
- The expectation that diverse or high-minority schools might use within-class ability grouping because of lack or resources or because of the other structural characteristics introduced in the analysis is not supported by these results.
Journal Article Empirical Research
Ability Groups, Composition, Kindergarten, Minorities, Racial Composition, Reading, SES, Tracking
Secondary Survey Data
Method of Analysis:
Unit of Analysis:
- Use the Early Childhood Longitudinal Study-Kindergarten Cohort (ECLS-K) Class of 1988-99.
- Data from 12,176 students, 2,244 teachers, and 768 schools
- DV: Continuous level variable indicating use of within-class ability grouping derived from teacher reports about their activities in the classes of the sampled students. Also, used gain score at the school level.
- IV: Classroom organizational structures (classroom skills and behaviors, classroom personnel, classroom material resources for reading instruction), School organizational structure (school diversity- dummies for school minority concentration is 10% or less, 10%-25%, 25%-50%, 50%-75%, and over 75%), School additional demographic and structural characteristics (average SES, urban school or not, etc.), school academic composition, school instructional organization, etc.