Tuesday, March 1, 2011

Should Students Be Ability Grouped?

The current read aloud in Reading Workshop is Freak the Mighty written by Rodman Philbrick.  Max, a struggling reader is placed with the "smart" kids so that he can be with Kevin, his disabled friend.  Although the placement is based on the needs of Kevin, it brings to question the decision about placing students in classes.

Ability grouping is the practice of sorting students, mostly in elementary and middle school, into classes based on their ability level.  Those for ability grouping claim it increases student achievement because teachers can provide instruction at the appropriate level that is neither too easy nor too hard for most students.

One of the main arguments against ability grouping is that it creates classes of low achievers who miss out on stimulating discussions with higher achievers.  Labeling students may also communicate self-fulfilling low expectations.

Will Max benefit from being placed in the class with higher achievers?  Would you prefer to be in a class that is ability grouped?  Why or why not?

45 comments:

Anonymous said...

We walk a fine line here...as a former teacher of gifted classes, I like to group students according to like-ability. Therefore, those with higher level thinking skills can bounce ideas off of others who think like they do. Students who struggle often feel less confident when placed with higher level thinkers...they often prefer to sit on the sidelines and watch. I do have a few students who truly benefit from 'rubbing elbows' with higher level thinkers.
PS: LOVE that book!

Mr. McGuire said...

Thank you for the comment Rocking Redskins. Stay tuned for students' opinions. I can't wait to see what they have to say.

Ashlee J said...

I think that Max will benefit from being placed in the class with higher achievers because he will probably be influenced to do good. Another reason I think Max will benefit from being in the class with higher achievers because Kevin could be like a toter to Max.Also Max could have a benefit from being in that class is because the teacher could help him a little bit.

I would not want to be in a class that is ability grouped because when it is time for the Ohio Achievement Assessment the people that are in the lower achievers class might have the same questions that the higher achievers have and maybe the lower achievers don't know how to do that problem.

Jessica W. said...

I think that teachers should put students in a class based on the level students are doing. But there are both positives and negatives about this situation.

Some positives are, if students split classes up at different levels then the slower students can work at there own pace and don't have to rush through their work.

Some negatives are, that if they split up the students they won't be able to lean off someone else mistake, and they might all be in different spots at the time of the achievement tests.

When the lower and upper students are combined they can lean off others mistakes. Or the upper students can help the lower students with work.

When the lower students are combined with the upper students, the lower students tend to just let the upper students answer the questions.

It's almost like soccer game. The slower players sit the side lines while the fast players run the field.

I don't think Max will benefit because he is put in a higher class then he should be. He will most likely fall behind more and more as the year goes on.

Caitlin W. said...

I believe that Max should be in smarter kids classroom, because if he has trouble understanding then the smarter kids can help him. When they help Max, he will get smarter and smarter. Then he can get challenge with other kids.

If Max was in lower achievement student classroom, he can't get help when in a lower achievement classroom. It will be good for Max to be higher achievement classroom.

I would prefer to be in a classroom that have higher achievement student and lower achievement student. The reason why, because I like it when I help or any higher achievement student in class help other that in lower achievement student in our class.

Sara A. said...

I think that Max will benefit from being placed in a class with higher achievers. I think this because I think that he has the ability and the power to learn what all or the higher achievers are learning. Then he always has his head in the clouds and he always daydreaming and not paying enough attention in class. Maybe someone will knock some sense into him to the point that he wants to learn and he wants to be at school.

No I would not like to be in a class that is ability grouped. Because the lower classes would feel like they are dumb and they can't achieve anything in their lives, because they aren't as good at the subject as Billy Bob or Tommy or who ever their role model is. I think that all students should be in one class so that they are all working at the same pace.

Rhianna Lucas said...

I think that Max is going to have a terrible time being in a higher class. I think he is going to be humiliated, and embarrassed. He probably wont have any confidence while being in this class. I think that when a big test comes up and Max wont know what to do then he will ask Freak to help him cheat.

I honestly think that the higher class men and the lower class men should be separated. If you put the lower class men in a different class and you are trying to have a discussion then some of the kids are going to have to speak up. If the lower class men are in a smarter class then the lower class men are just going to sit around and wait for someone to answer for them.

If you separate the kids then the lower class men are not going to be made fun of. If you keep them together then the higher class men might make fun of the lower class men just because they can't answer a question.

I really think that the kids should be separated so then they can learn better. If you keep them separated then the kids can learn it through their mind more accurately.

Lindsey Hunter said...

I think Max being placed in the higher achieving class is good and bad. Bad because Max will probably copy off Kevin and not learn anything. The good thing is if the teacher keeps calling on him maybe it might some since in his head so he will want to learn and try to get smart, so he doesn't get embarrassed in front of the whole class for not knowing what the answer is.

I think being in a ability class would be some what harder or easier it is hard to decide because I've never been a class like that. But I think it might be good because you help them out and be their friend and make them feel like a normal person.

I think if you are in a grouped ability class if you make fun of them your being a bully. I think you should get to know who they really are and not for what they look like. Like Max he got to know Kevin for who he really is not as a miniature little freak dude with a brace on his leg.

Nick U. said...

I think that all students should be in one class room, because I think that students should learn at their grade level to make them work harder.

If Max is in a higher achievers class I think that it will help him because if he needs help all he has to do is ask.

But then then I think if Max is in the higher achievers class he would struggle too. So I think he should stay in the class but then I don't think he should stay.

Sierra W. said...

I think Max will benefit from being in a higher skilled class. He will most likely benefit from this because being in a higher class will get him more help from people. Not only that, but when he gets help from people, he will learn more, and then, he might just move up to the level needed for the higher classes he is already in.

Being in different level classes is something that I am with, but then yet against. The reason I am with this idea is because when kids are in their own level class, they can learn at their own speed. Which also allows them to learn at their own pace.

The reason I am against being in separate level classes is because there is no kids with a higher skill level to help others out. I think it would be good to have every one in the same class so people with higher skill levels ca explain to the kids with lower skill levels a different way than what their teacher taught them. That would also help people with different level skills become friends and not be left out of certain things other people are doing, but that is only my opinion.

Micah Hines said...

I think that being in ability groups is better than one big class. I think this because the lower level students might not be able to do what the higher level students can do.

It will also look bad for college if you don't have good grades because you don't understand it what I mean is that you will not understand what there doing class. So if you don't understand it you can go to the lower level classes.

I think that Max will do better since he is put with the higher grade kids because he will have freak to help him whenever he wants. He also might do bad because he won't understand what there doing. So he might fail which would be bad.

By the end of the year I think that Max will get separated from Freak or he could actually start to pay attention and start to learn

Cade V. said...

I think that students should preform in the should that they feel comfortable at. I feel that way because people might not understand higher levels in that class. Some people might be in the highest level in one class and be in the lowest in the other.

I also think that the students should all be in one. I think that because the students who don't understand will have to learn at that rate.

In my opinion Max will get help or actually pay attention in class to understand. If you want to be in the higher class you have to know the lower class. Max kept saying that he has no brain but now he has a friend in the higher class, Kevin. Max met Kevin and Max realized he is a overachiever and has learned from him.

Austin P. said...

I think that Max will be separated from Freak because Max is not has smart. That is why I think that Max will get separated from Freak.

I think that the kids should be separated in there own ability. Because that way the will get what the teacher is teaching them. Then they can keep going up the levels.

HeathJ22 said...

I think that student shouldn't be in group by ability. They should be in classes together. If they are the ones that don't get the subject they could get someone that gets it.

When max was put in with higher achievers class. I bet it helps him understand more.
It probably mad max want to work a little harder.

Megan B. said...

I think that it wasn't a good idea to put Max in with the higher achievers. I think this because Max isn't very smart so I think he'll get lost in the lessons because he wont no what the teachers are trying to teach. Max might get held back because he might not be able to understand the lessons.

I would much rather be in a class where everyone is mixed together. I would want this because you can learn off of other peoples' mistakes so you can do better next time you do what you made a mistake in.

I wouldn't want to be in a class where everyone is separated. I wouldn't want this because then there wouldn't be any bullying from the people how really get the subject to the people who are totally lost in the subject.

Blaize R. said...

I think that it's not a good idea to put Max in a class with higher achievers. I think this because it might lower his grades because he wouldn't understand. It could make him lost in everything the teacher is trying to teach or say. It may be hard for him to concentrate and learn. If he's really trying hard he could learn from other's mistakes and his own, but then again he should learn from his own mistakes and other's anyway.
I wouldn't want to be in a ability group. I wouldn't want to be in an ability group because if I was in the lower group some people could not even know what the teacher are teaching because they are always goofing off, which makes it harder for me to learn. If I wasn't placed in a ability group where kids that are more advanced than me could teach me or help me do the work.

Chase W. said...

I think it is a good idea because Max can ask the smart kids for help. Also Freak could help him if he needed help with his homework. I think he will become smarter being in a class with all the smart kids.

I think I would want to be in a class with all smart kids because you would get to learn more stuff. Also you would not have to wait for the not so smart kids to get done. You could also bounce ideas off each other. I would also want to be in a class with kids that are my reading level and math level. I think you be able to get ahead and learn more stuff if you were in a class with all smart kids

Stephen D said...

I think Max will be smarter if he stays in the higher class. Only if the smarter kids are nice to Max then they could possibly help him out. It would be bad if the kids were mean to Max and didn't help him if he needed it then he would have to go back to an easier level. So hopefully the kids and teachers will be nice to him so he can succeed!

The only way Max should go down to an easier level is if no one helps him and if he just doesn't get it. Maybe the lower level teachers might not be able to explain the work of what hes suppose to do. But also maybe the teachers might explain it better than some of the teachers in the higher level of school!

Shala.S. said...

I think it isn't a good idea for Max to be in with the students who do better. (high achievers) I think this because he is not that smart and even if he asked someone to help him I think he would still not understand. He might not even make it without getting flunked, unless he is in with his group that works at his paste.

I would want to be in a mixed up class rather than a group of smarter kids, or less achievers. The reason I say this is because some students might be strong in mathematics but not science.

I wouldn't want to be in a class with people that are at my reading or writing level. I think that when you are in a group of students that read at the same level as you, you just can't ask them what is going on because they won't know, so then you just sit around making a blank face waiting for a teacher. to come around. Then you will be behind even more because you just sit there.

Katie R. said...

I think Max will become a smarter person if he is in a class with higher achievers. I think Max will become smarter because some smarter people can help him with his work. If Max goes to the Higher level then he is probably going to get made fun of by the smarter students.

If Max is in a easy level, I don't think it would help him much because the people in the easy class also struggle so Max can't get help from him.

Danny H. said...

I think it wasn't a bad idea to put Max in a class with smarter kids because Max could get help by a smart kid.At the end of the year I'll bet Max will be the smartest kid around.

I would want to be all separated.I would want this to happen because if I needed help I could ask a smart kid if he could help me.

Belle H. said...

I think it was a good idea to put Max in the ability group because,he can learn some new things from the other kids in his group. I know that it is harder for Max because of his disorder, but if he doesn't try he will never know what he is really capable of.

I would much rather be in the ability group because, you would get to learn more challenging things. I guess I wouldn't mind being in the disable class but all you would do is learn non-challenging subjects,and where would that get you?

I really like the book Freak The Mighty! I think it's the best book we have read all year.

Tyler H. said...

I think that Max should be in the higher achievers class because he might get stuck on something that he doesn't understand. When he doesn't understand then he could get one of the smart kids to help him. A example could be, Max doesn't understand math then he could get help from one of the smarter kids.

If Max goes to the lower achievers then he would still not be smart in school. Then he might not pass that year and go to the next grade and he won't see be able to see Kevin in school.

Lisa B. said...

In my opinion I think that Max being put in the "smart" class will help him become a much better student. I think this because with the other students will be really good at the subjects, so Max will want to work harder so he can be like them.

I would like to be in the "smart" class because you would get to do more challenging stuff. If you were in the "not so smart" class you wouldn't be doing challenging stuff, and would that get you in life?

Alan S. said...

I think that Max will be separated from Kevin. Just because Max is ''not the sharpest tool in the shed''.
Kids should be separated by their own ability. Then it should be up to the parent(s)/guardian(s) to choose the classes the student(s) take.

Nicholas k said...

I think Max will benefit in the higher class because he will learn from other people. I would prefer to be in the higher class that is ability grouped because you would learn a lot more challenging things.

I think Freak The mighty is the best book you ever read to us. I can't wait to watch the movie.

Heidi Vining said...

I have two predictions for what will happen Max. The first one is that since Max is in a higher achievement class he will become smarter and maybe pull up his reading level. The second one is that Max won't do good at all and because of his low intelligence he will fail and have to go to a lower achievement class, and won't get to go to the same classes as Freak. I would like to be put in a higher achievement class because I would want to get the chance to get the same amount of education as one of the smarter kids.

Mark S. said...

My opinion is that being with the group will make Max realize what he can do and how he can make himself better. He has all this time on his hands and doesn’t do a thing, he needs to try to do something to help him in life. Not just being a killer's son, he can be known as something else.

I would prefer to be in a class that is separated from smarts to people who have a hard time understanding, Because when they do that it doesn’t hold the smart kids back, and for the people who don’t understand will get more time to work on finding different ways to help them.

Vanessa Vining said...

I think Max would probably benefit by being in a place in the class with the higher achievers because he would probably learn strategies and words that would probably help him. I think if Max had a teacher like Ms. Blueball he wouldn't have much trouble. I also think that if every school had teachers like Ms. Blueball the students would do fine in school.

Ridge Y said...

I don't think Max will benefit off of being in the higher level class. I think this because he probably end up having freak or some other smart kids do his work for him. I also think he won't understand anything and will fail his hard work unless he has some else do his work for him. I think he will really struggle. Now if he was placed in a group with the lower level kids, I think he could really benefit and make progress. He would be able to understand better and work at his own, slow pace.

I am all for ability grouping, if you are placed in your right group that you should be in. I think it benefits for the lower level kids or slower kids because they can get more help and work at their own pace. I think they would understand the class better and end up a lot better off. I think it would benefit the higher level kids or the faster kids. I say that because usually they get done faster and end up waiting on the slower kids. Sometimes I feel that the higher level kids are not challenged enough either. Thats why I think ability grouping is a good idea.

Cassie D. said...

I feel that he will not do well at all because Max is a lower level reader and is placed with the "smart" kids. I believe that ability grouping is a good idea because it helps people stay with people with the same or close to the same needs, but at the same time it could be a bad thing because if your in a lower class and someone is in a higher class they might be all bratty and make fun of the people that are lower achievers. Of course the people at Laurelville Elementary are not like that and would never do anything like that.

Jared B. said...

In my opinion I think Max will become a better student if he stays in the higher classes.

I would like to be ability grouped because, I would like to go at my pace at math or reading and not rush through all the time. When I read I like to take my time to understand the book and the story and what happens. Same thing with math, I would like to go at my pace at a problem.

I wouldn't like to be with smart people because, they work really fast and read fast. I'm more like a slow person who works slowly and struggles a bit. If I were to be with the smart group I wouldn't make any progress.

If Max were ability grouped he would become a much better student at subjects.

Alex H. said...

I think Max will do worse in school than he has ever did before.When he is in the class room and the teacher asks a questions Max will probably still be on the first one and the rest of the kids will be on the third or forth one .

I'm ok with ability grouping, but I don't think it is a good thing that Max is in the higher achievers.He will probably learn some stuff but it will take him half the time as the other kids in that group.

If they let people in a high group than there meant for, then the kids will never get to learn at there own pace . Just because Max helps Kevin move around doesn't meant they have to be in the same class.

tylerw said...

I think that Max should because it would help him because the higher achievers can help him read.Also he will not benefit because he will not know what the teachers are talking about. I would like to be in a lower achievers because I could probably get better grades. Because I could probably under stand more words because they would be easier.

Alison G said...

I think Max will start to be smarter in reading, because Freak is in his class. When he hangs out with Freak he is learning big words, because he uses a lot of big words and words he hasn't heard of. Freak will probably encourage Max to do better and help Max
I would prefer to be separated from smarter people in a class I wasn't good in so I would get more help if I didn't understand something.

Hayley said...

I think that Max will not benefit because he will not understand what the teacher is saying. If the teacher says what does the word responsibility Max might not know what that means because he can not read so he would not know what it meant. In math today we were talking about angles of a circle and I did not know what she was talking about.

I also think that all schools should have ability grouping because I am not vary good at math and I would like to be in people that have the ability with me in the class. I think that it would be better for people that have trouble with the stuff that I have trouble with. Then if you do people would get the help that they need and the teachers would know what the kid needed and the kid would not feel left out.

Caleb said...

Max would benefit from being in the higher class because he will become a better reader. The better readers will help him. So I don't want ability grouping because I want to be in a class with better readers so they can help me. I don't read as good as other kids but maybe they can help me.

Andrew M. said...

I don't think Max will benefit in the higher leveled class. I think this because the other students will be working at a faster pace than he will. Plus he doesn't do as good as the other students so they'll probably be doing a better job than he will and then he'll probably feel bad that he's not doing as good in the higher achieving class. The only reason he's in the higher class is so he can help Freak.

I think ability grouping is a good thing in most cases. In my mind it kind of depends on your personality and life style. Max is a good example because his dad is a killer in jail and his mom is dead, so if he's in a higher class then he could learn what to do to get his grade up. If you are like Freak and are really smart, you would not really need ability grouping. But that is just my opinion.

I really like Freak The Mighty. I can't wait to see the movie.

Emily said...

I think that being in ability groups is better than one big class. I think this because the lower level students might not be able to do what the higher level students can do.But then I think if Max is in the higher achievers class he would struggle too. So I think he should stay in the class but then I don't think he should stay. If Max stays in a class with Kevin. Kevin will probably not study when he gets home he might not do what he use to. You see if Kevin keeps helping Max,Kevin will get so far behind in class work. He might even get so far behind in home work. So I thing that Max should not be in a class with Kevin. So I think Max should go in the lower achiever.

Dylan H said...

I think that Max will do bad because the teacher will be teaching for high level students and Max won't be able to understand it. Even if he did he wouldn't be able to get any papers done because all the other students will be done before he could get half way done.

I'm not sure whether I would like to be ability grouped, even though in most classes I'd be at the top group, math, science, and social studies. I would probably be OK with it but Ms. Bowlby would be madder when I don't pay attention. Ability grouping could be bad for low level students, because they could think they're no good and not want to try. Really I think the way students are here is fine, when think about it being in the high level class wouldn't be to good because you would always get done early and sit around for 25 minutes, or you have to do extra work.

Kyra S. said...

I feel that Max is not going to do very well because he is in a class where everyone works at a faster pace then him and he might not be able to catch up to them. I think that Max is going to struggle in the class with "smart" kids because he works and thinks slower than all of them so he will not be able to get his work done as fast as them and the teacher will expect more from him than what he can give him or her. I would like to be in an ability grouped class because that way I could work at my own pace and be able to work with people like me that like to take a little more time.

DawnB said...

I don't think that Max will benefit with other higher achievers. Because since Max can not read he would probably be better in the lower achievers so that he can get help by one of the teachers to help him read instead of just setting there and not reading.

I would be fine with ability grouping. Because if I was really bad at something I would want to get help from somebody instead of just sitting there and do nothing the whole time while every body else was done.I would also be fine with it because if the really smart kids got done and I was struggling on the first question.That would not be fun because then I would get in trouble for not getting my work done on time.So that is why I would be fine with ability grouping.

Jakob S. said...

I think that we should be in other class's because people who are not very smart like Max. They can work at their own level. The people who are really "smart" like Freak can work at their own level.

I think Max would not benefit being in a smarter class with Freak. Max should do what's best for him. The only reason Max and Freak are in the same class because Freak thought he could help him because Max is in the really smart class with Freak.

I think that Max should do what's best for him not what's best for Max and Freak. Max would benefit more if he was in the right class. Not in the really smart class because he would get bad grades and fail.I think Max would feel uncomfortable being in a smart class when your not that smart

Unknown said...

It is vital that students change groups. Being in a group with like-abilities is GREAT - but not all the time. Being in a group with higher skills is GREAT - but not all the time.

This alternation will help the students learn skills to work with people of different abilities throughout their lives.

Unknown said...

As an educator, I struggle with this question many times a year. This year my students were grouped by administration based on their needs. The students were grouped primarily on their reading abilities. This has made reading instruction easier for me this year. This is my first year teaching second grade. When planning my lessons, I have in mind that all of my students are primarily on the same level of instruction with a few modifications. When it comes to teaching the rest of the curriculum, the groups that were created do not always apply. Many of my students are struggling with many math concepts. I personally struggle with my feelings towards those given chosen groupings. Is that the best way to group students? Shouldn't we use both reading and math if we want to group classes like mine? Anyone who has any ideas, I would love to hear from you!