Ability Grouping Is Not Just Tracking Anymore - Semantic Scholar

the 1980's by Jeannie Oakes and Robert. Slavin over issues of equity and accusa- tions of racism. The result ..... ability grouping have been Robert Slavin and Jeannie Oakes. Their research is quoted by both educators ..... should be presented to an authentic audi- ence. In utilizing this model for curricu- lum development ...
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Ability Grouping Is Not Just Tracking Anymore CarolL. Tieso

end of the normal curve, especially in these days of political rhetoric and a heightened concern for educational accountability. But ability grouping is The No Child Left Behind legislation, with its neither the fiend nor the foe that it has emphasis on conducting scientifically based research, has reopened the door to a set of been labeled. In the past, ability groupinstructional and curricular practices left for ing has been equated with tracking, a dead in light of the scathing criticism of Oakes permanent and now unacceptable and Slavin in the 1980s, mainly ability groupapproach in which students are assessed ing. This article represents a review of the literature of best practices, both instructional based on prior achievement or measured and curricular, that may lead to increased intelligence and placed into streams or achievement among America's gifted and taltracks from which they never escape, a ented youth, whether they reside in an enrichsituation that has created problems for ment or resource room or the regular classroom. The review suggests that flexible ability advocates of equity and equality. The grouping, combined with appropriate curricupresent and future of ability grouping lar revision or differentiation, may result in lies in the flexible use of grouping, substantial achievement gains both for avereither between or within classrooms. age and high ability learners. It is imperative that researchers in the field of gifted educaHowever, ability grouping alone will not tion take the lead in this endeavor so that no lead to significant improvement in stuchild, including the gifted and talented, will be dents' achievement unless it is combined left behind. with curricula that have been created based on students' learning styles, interests, and abilities. When ability grouping Carol L. Tieso is an is utilized in a flexible and temporary lassistant professor in manner, with appropriate curricular gifted education at the adjustment, significant achievement University of Alabama. She completed her gains can be realized. Ph.D. at the University great deal of research indicates of Connecticut in June, Athat moderate gains occur in 2000. Her research students' academic achievement when interests include the impact of flexible groupteachers adopt practices from gifted eduing and curriculum difcation pedagogy, such as ability groupferentiation models on ing (Kulik, 2003; Slavin, 1987), curricustudents' achievement lum modification (Wiggins & McTighe, and addressing the social and emotional needs of gifted, talented, and creative students. 1998), differentiation (Renzulli, 1994; E-mail: [email protected] Tomlinson, 1995, 1999), strategies to enhance higher level thinking skills, concept-based instruction (Erickson, 1998), problem-based learning (Delisle, Tn the backdrop of the No Child 1997), and constructivist pedagogy lLeft Behind legislation and its (Brooks & Brooks, 1995), to improve requisite need for scientifically based student achievement (Bechtol & Sorenresearch to support educational pracson, 1993; Bloom, 1976; Feldhusen, tices, the time has come to revisit an old 1989; Kaplan, 1986, 2001; Renzulli, friend (or foe depending upon one's per1988, 1994; VanTassel-Baska, 1986; sonal persuasion): ability grouping. In Walberg, 1985). Because it is unlikely the recent past, research on ability that one strategy operating in isolation is grouping has ground to an inexorable as effective as multiple interventions, it halt, mainly due to concerns raised in is recommended that school personnel the 1980's by Jeannie Oakes and Robert investigate the combined effects of Slavin over issues of equity and accusagrouping practices and differentiated tions of racism. The result has been the curriculum. degradation of educational opportunities The following review of the literafor students identified as gifted and talture is offered to assist school personnel ented and the lack of concern for stuin this investigation. Related literature dents identifi