By Judith Ireson
Skill Grouping in schooling offers an outline of skill grouping in schooling. The authors contemplate selective education and talent grouping inside of colleges, akin to streaming, banding atmosphere and within-class grouping.
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Additional resources for Ability Grouping in Education
As we have seen, even so-called comprehensive schools differ markedly, some taking a wide range of ability while others are skewed towards the lower range. This is particularly true of schools without sixth forms, whose intakes may be more similar to the old secondary modern schools. At the beginning of this chapter and in Chapter 1, we noted that research on ability grouping is fraught with methodological difficulties. In spite of the flaws in different studies, the evidence indicates that selection and ability grouping are not, in themselves, particularly effective ways to raise overall attainment.
More differences were reported within the two systems than between them. There was no evidence that high ability pupils were performing differently in the two systems, although the low ability pupils made significant gains in the mixed ability classes. A follow-up study (Postlethwaite and Denton, 1978) demonstrated better overall performance by the less able pupils in the mixed ability situation, without any reduction in the levels of attainment achieved by the more able. Gregory (1984), in a review of research comparing streaming, setting and mixed ability grouping in secondary schools, noted several contradictory findings.
Summary The weight of evidence from research on both selective schooling and ability grouping within schools indicates that they have rather little impact on overall attainment. Although analyses of school examination results suggest that pupils in some schools perform particularly well, this is very often due to the intake. A school that is able to select pupils by ability should, after all, be high in any league table of examination results. It is essential when making comparisons between schools to take account of pupil attainment on entry.
Ability Grouping in Education by Judith Ireson