I have done some subbing in sixth grade (middle school) recently. I wasn’t there for very long when I started to get the idea that the different classes were grouped according to their ability. I was shocked because as a teacher, I have grouped students according to pretest scores but I usually only do it for reading and math and the groups change frequently based on what the students need to work on. I was shocked that these students were grouped for all subjects.
There are positives to ability grouping. Students don’t have to wait or rush because they are at the same level as the rest of the group. They can also get more or less help from the teacher, depending on their needs. Finally, there is no boredom.
There are also some negatives to ability grouping too. Sometimes, students get stuck in one group and this can create labels (nerds or dumb). Ability grouping also means more work for the teacher.
As a former student, I think that students need to be mixed up occasionally. There are times when it is nice to teach groups because then almost all the students are on the same level. But at the same time, students need to have the opportunity to work with different students and learn from each other. I know when I was in school, I used to hate working with some students because I found them to be very slow. But the world isn’t divided into ability groups. Students need to be able to work with everyone.
There are positives and negatives to ability grouping. It should have its place in the classroom, but shouldn’t be used all the time because students need to learn and work with all students, not just a certain group.