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Mixed class - but not for the reason listed. Student learning potential/ability is not fixed, as many people believe. However, much damage is done to students when they are separated and told they are either 'smart' or 'slow.' In addition, students placed in a low level class are often treated by teachers as though they cannot learn more complex material. They are given the "basics" year after year. They often end up disliking school, becoming very disengaged, and making very little progress academically. Students who are told they are 'smart' often do not learn how to learn. When they are faced with challenging material (which at some point they are bound to be), they will not have the strategies and skills to persevere and learn what is expected.
As I read through the comments, I was particularly drawn to Kathryn Franklin's post. I've taught ten years in 4th and 5th grade, and have worked in fully mixed classrooms and in classrooms where students rotated to other classes leaving homogeneous groups for reading and math instruction. I really liked the latter set-up; I had a "high" group and a "low" group who were together about half the day, but separated during reading and math so that I could work toward the needs of the specific group.
However, the district in which I currently work doesn't have the space (nor can afford the extra teachers) needed to make this arrangement happen. While I do understand the need for integrated classrooms, I also have seen class sizes too large and support resources too limited to properly differentiate instruction for all.
Ultimately, the best possible solution would be one of smaller class sizes, but I feel that's the solution to almost all of the instructional issues facing our schools these days.
It rests on the assumption that we understand the learning process and have in place a system of education that promotes the development of learning skills.
Look around and assess the outcomes of a NCLB standards driven process. Post secondary people do not want to be involved, read very little and are self absorbed to the extreme.
As long as those at the top micromanage those who actually do the work (teachers) our system of education will continue to produce clones, some who may be very bright clones, but clones nevertheless.
Go with Mixed if you can have small class size allowing enough one on one teacher/student time. If not keep them segregated.
Too many high achieving classes are built off of IQ rather than EQ. There are many children in the high achieving classes that are weak in many areas of life outside of academics.
The children who may have missed the IQ test with the high scoring EQ will out perform these high IQ kids in life overall. The High IQ kids need them.
Elementary students should be in mixed ablity classes that are funded enough to allow for differentiation within the instruction. This may be true for higher grades as well, but as a 5th grade teacher, I know this is true for the elementary student. Unfortunately, funding needs to allow a reasonable class size for each teacher and support to be able to facilitate differentiatied instruction. Having taught 1-6th for almost 20 years and never having less than 30 students in a class, but always having special needs through Gifted and Talented students in each classroom; I know this to be true. With support and not such restrictive resources, I am aware of the benefits of mixing kids while providing them with individual challenges, choices and comparable assessments. If hard working teachers were given more leeway to do what was right for each year's set of students, more could be accomplished!!!
Schools are believed to be preparation for an adult life or work and living. We all work in a mixed ability environment and it would benefit our students to learn to work cooperatively with persons of many abilities.
Schools are also notoriously poor predictors of adult success. We cannot delude outselves into thinking that success in this very controlled environment called school is a predictor of success in an ever changing environment called life.
There is a benefit to providing a unique educational environment to extremely gifted students, but once again schools often for political reasons cannot adequately screen these students. Even those students must learn to work with the other students in other subjects.
Personally, I was not a great student in grade school or college and have attained a doctorate in my field. Intelligence is dynamic and specific knowledge is acquired throughout one's life.
Therefore, schools must provide mixed ability classes that challenge all and must still provide targeted challenges for those that demonstrate real talent. This is very possible and can be accomplished without returning to the "Bad old days" of tracking. As a freshman in HS in 1960, I was tracked to "Freshman F" in a class that had only two lower levels (G and H).
As a secondary special educator, I think doing a survey of both target groups would be worthwhile. High school carries so much stress that this seems like a question to at least gather input from possible participants. It is heartbreaking to hear kids w/ special needs get angry w/ themselves and say how 'stupid' they are. How many places did that thought get reinforced? If mixed grouping were to become the norm, IOI think the sp. ed. kids would need powerful training in self- advocacy!!!
It is very unfair to the high achieving students since the teachers only focus on the low achievers because of the no child left behind act. In fact, my son we be in trouble for knowing the answers and the low achievers only copied off of him since the class was crowded. They should be separated since it is impossible for a human being to teach both ends.
It seems to me that what happens is that instead of the less able rising to a higher level we are insisting that all the rest must go at a slower pace. It is human nature to choose the path of least resistance and many teachers are no exception.They will choose to go at a slower pace rather than demanding the higher performance levels that are needed for the rest of the class to receive benefit. As a result no one gets the education that they need. the slower paced student is frustrated by having to struggle if they are to keep up and the brighter student is taught to under perform on a daily basis
I noticed that the choices only seem to focus on the "high acheiving" student, "allow stronger students to inspire their lower-performing peers to improve." And yes this does sometimes happen when the gap between the two is not too great. But you left out how the "lower-performing students" also inspire the higher acheiving students.
My concern with this type of class is when the gap is too great between the two which is what happens all too often. When you have students that can barely read in a class with students who read well above grade level it is not fair to ALL of the students in the classroom. I speak from experience. As teachers we do the best we can in any situation, but let's be honest. There is NO all or nothing answer to this question.
7th grade Language