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Ability Grouping in Elementary Secondary Education

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Table of Contents


ABILITY GROUPING: Selection or classification of students for schools, classes, or other educational programs based on differences in ability or achievement. [Broader term = Homogenous Grouping]

HETEROGENEOUS GROUPING: Organization or classification of students according to specified criteria for the purpose of forming instructional groups with a high degree of dissimilarity.

HOMOGENEOUS GROUPING: Organization or classification of students according to specified criteria for the purpose of forming instructional groups with a high degree of similarity.

TRACK SYSTEM (EDUCATION): System whereby students of the same chronological age or grade level are assigned to different classes, programs, or schools (e.g., college preparatory programs vs. vocational programs) on the basis of perceived ability, achievement level, career/vocational choice, etc.

Definitions' source: Thesaurus of ERIC Descriptors, rev. 13th ed., Feb. 1999.

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[Topical Overviews in Full-Text]

Grouping Students for Instruction in Middle Schools [1998] - by Rebecca Mills
Alternatives to Ability Grouping: Still Unanswered Questions [1995] - by Gary Burnett
Organizing for Effective Reading Instruction [1994] - by Carol Nelson
The Effects of Homogeneous Groupings in Mathematics [1993] - by Linda Ruiz Davenport
Successful Detracking in Middle and Senior High Schools [1992] - by Carol Ascher
Ability Grouping in Elementary Schools. [1987] - by John Hollifield


Education Week on the Web: Issues: Tracking [1998]

Harvard Education Letter: Special Issue on Detracking [1997]

National Association of School Psychologists [NASP] Position Statement: Ability Grouping [adopted 1993; reapproved 1998]

Crossing the Tracks: How 'Untracking' Can Save America's Schools [Introduction] [1992] - Anne Wheelock

National Council for the Social Studies [NCSS] Position Statement: Ability Grouping in Social Studies [1992] - Prepared by the Ad Hoc Committee on Ability Grouping, NCSS

An Analysis of the Research on Ability Grouping: Historical and Contemporary Perspectives [Abstract] - James A. Kulik

New Possibilities for Teaching Diverse Populations in Tomorrow's High School - Laurence R. Marcus and Theodore Johnson, Rowan College of New Jersey

Ability Grouping and Gifted & Talented Students:

The Relationship of Grouping Practices to the Education of the Gifted and Talented Learner - Dr. Karen B. Rogers, Neag Center for Gifted Education and Talent Development, University of Connecticut

Ability-Grouping Research Reviews: What Do They Say about Grouping and the Gifted? [1991] - Susan Demirsky Allan, Consultant for Gifted Education/Fine Arts, Dearborn Public Schools, Michigan

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Dynamic (i.e., Live) Searches of the ERIC Documents Database

The following search options employ the electronic Thesaurus of ERIC Descriptors as the search interface for the ERIC documents database. If you would like to ensure a current bibliography of ERIC documents for any of the given sub-topics, then we highly recommend that you pursue this option. Also, once you have selected a search option, you may edit the given strategy to introduce concepts into the search to accommodate your specific needs; or, you can build an entirely new search strategy in the ERIC Search Wizard. For a short, highly selective bibliography, please see the Selected ERIC Documents Citations below.

  • Dynamic Search of the ERIC Database for the Outcomes of Ability Grouping in Elementary Secondary Education

  • Dynamic Search of the ERIC Database for The Impact of Ability Grouping on Gifted Students

Selected ERIC Documents Citations

Although less current and less plentiful than the Dynamic Search option (above), these selective bibliographies present ERIC documents citations that have been preselected on the basis of the thoroughness and/or authority and/or uniqueness that they reflect.

Instructions for ERIC Documents Access

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[Check your local library or bookstore for access]

	Kulik, J. A. (1992). An analysis of the research on ability
grouping: Historical and contemporary perspectives. Storrs, CT:
The National Research Center on the Gifted and Talented,
University of Connecticut.

	Slavin, R.E. (1990). Achievement effects of ability grouping
in secondary schools: A best-evidence synthesis.  Review of
Education Research, 60, 471-499.

	Slavin, R.E. (1987). Ability grouping and student achievement
in elementary schools: A best-evidence synthesis.  Review of
Education Research, 57, 293-336.

	Wheelock, A. (1994). Alternatives on tracking and ability
grouping. Arlington: American Association of School Adminstrators.

	Wheelock, A. (1992). Crossing the tracks : how untracking
can save America's schools. New York: The New Press.

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Publication Notes:
Created: September 18, 1999

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