Foundations and Assessment of Education/Edition 1/In Today's Schools Table of Contents/Grouping & Tracking

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Grouping & Tracking
Observations and Reflections from Today's Classrooms

Type Responses Here

Grouping children in today's classrooms is becoming less of a trend compared to previous years. I can vividly remember going to the cafeteria with 4 other students during naptime to learn to read from "Fun with Dick and Jane" while I was in kindergarten. I was always in the "high" reading group through out elementary school. In middle and high school, grouping gave way to tracking and I was cruising down the college prep./advanced placement highway. Everyone knew who was considered a smart kid and who was not. Labeling is a double edged sword. It could be cool or it could ruin you academically and socially.

In my teaching experiences, my principal discourages grouping in the classroom because she feels it promotes inequality and labeling. She asserts that we should all be able to teach a child regardless of their "level." I came across a unique situation while I was observing in a 5th grade classroom. While the students were preparing to exchange classes, the reading teacher explained to me that the reading and math classes were grouped. The two teachers used 4th grade SOL scores, report card grades, and STAR Reading & Math scores to group children according to ability. I have to admit that I was shocked because I thought very few schools still practiced grouping, and if they did it was at the primary level. I asked about her feeling of success with this system and she was very happy. The classes were named Reading 1/2 and Math 1/2, but the students were very aware of the differences. I also could detect different treatment by the teachers depending on which group they had in the classroom. I'm sticking to my guns and staying away from grouping, especially at the elementary level. Acrow005 (talk) 01:01, 26 July 2009 (UTC)

The school I observed in, grouping was the norm. Students were split up into separate groups for reading and math. Instead of staying in their own classrooms, they were sent to other classroom. One of the problems I observed right off was how the teachers reacted to the switch. It was made known to me in front of the other children, who was low in reading and math. This caused a problem with the children because they were teased by other children and ridiculed by some of the teachers. This is not appropriate behavior from teachers, in my opinnion, and should never be tolerated. I have to say, I was appalled that some of the teachers used poor judgement in regards to students who just required a little extra help. Not only did the students' reactions turn poor, but you could see how this affected the rest of the class time. In reaction to the open communication of their "problem", students either shut down and did not participate or they started acting out. Grouping, in and of itself, can be used as a beneficial tool to help those who need that extra one-on-one time. When I worked as a Instructional Assistant in a high school reading class, I did a lot of one-on-one reading with students. One of the things, we started with was giving the kids a survey to see what they hoped to accomplish from the reading class...then we had them set goals and check them off when they reached them. Through tracking their progress and showing them their progress, the outcome from beneficial for not only the students, but myself as well.Scarlett1 (talk) 21:21, 1 August 2009 (UTC)

This is a particularly interesting topic to me. My principal highly discourages grouping, however in the same breath boasts about differentiation. I asked her once how to accomplish differentiated instruction, and one of her responses was to teach the excelled students some further extensions of the material and give them more exploratory higher thinking work , while the regular students focus on the main information. Okay, so that's fine but I could not help think how I would manage teaching certain students something but not another group. Well the only thing that comes to mind is grouping by ability, as only one teacher, I must delineate them in some fashion so that I can efficiently differentiate their lesson, but yet at the same time this goes directly against what most textbooks say about ability grouping. Isn't differentiated instruction just another path to ability grouping which in turn still leads to self fulfilling prophecies? Scrai010 (talk) 02:11, 3 August 2009 (UTC)