Lleras, Christy, & Claudia Rangel
Ability Grouping Practices in Elementary School and African American/Hispanic Achievement
University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign
Examines the impact of ability grouping practices on the achievement gains among African Americans and Hispanics during elementary school.
Journal Name or Institutional Affiliation:
American Journal of Education
Vol. 115, February, pp. 279-304
- On average, African American and Hispanic students were in 1st and 3rd grade classrooms where one in four students were reading below grade level.
- Estimated negative effect on African Americans on reading achievement gains of being lower grouped for reading instruction in 3rd grade is about .23 of a standard deviation of nongrouped students.
- The positive effect on African Americans of being higher grouped is .12 of a standard deviation above nongrouped African American students. The same is true for Hispanics but only in 1st grade.
- Estimated negative effect on Hispanics on reading achievement gains of being lower grouped for reading instruction in 3rd grade is about .15 of a standard deviation of nongrouped students.
- The positive effect on Hispanics of being higher grouped is .21 of a standard deviation above nongrouped Hispanic students.
- Students who are lower grouped for reading instruction learn substantially less and higher-grouped students learn slightly more by the first and third grades, compared to classroom that do not practice grouping.
- Calls into question the notion that ability grouping is a beneficial practice in early elementary school years.
- Study supports the differential effects hypothesis of ability grouping.
- Suggests that ability grouping has substantial implications for early learning trajectories of African American and Hispanic students.
Journal Article Empirical Research
Ability Groups, Academic Achievement, Achievement Gap, African American, Elementary School, Hispanics
Secondary Survey Data
Method of Analysis:
Kindergarten, 1st and 3rd grade Blacks/Hispanics
Unit of Analysis:
Classroom, School, Student
- Early Childhood Longitudinal Study, first and second follow-up surveys
- 750 African American students, 886 Hispanic students
- Only students who attended the same school for kindergarten, first, and third grades, and progressed on time.
- Controlled for whether child speaks Spanish at home, whether child was born in the US, family socioeconomic status, sex of child, student behavior rating, teacher rating, class size, school sector, school racial composition.
- DV: Reading achievement gains
- IV: Ability group placement, class ability, family SES, class size, public school, gender, lagged reading score, etc.