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Ability grouping is beneficial for high school students

posted Apr 13, 2016, 9:22 AM by Unknown user

A topic of conversation in schools has always been whether teachers should group students based on their academic abilities. Arguments center around self-esteem issues. Others argue that low-income and minority students, who often enter at a lower level than their peers, get “trapped” in the lower-ability groups. In 2013, the New York Times released a story titled “Grouping Students by Ability Regains Favor in Classrooms.”

According to the author, Vivian Yee, this practice “fell out of favor” in the 1990s because critics felt like the low-income and minority students fell into these low groups, which “perpetuated inequality”.

Avoiding grouping in elementary school is understandable because young students are very impressionable. Not to say high school students are not impressionable, but by their sophomore year, most students have decided which subjects they enjoy, and if they care strongly about their academic performance.

After students have made this choice, teachers should be allowed to group the students by their ability so that higher-level students are able to progress and to be challenged.

As I come to the end of my high school years, I feel that I have been held back from my full potential. Conway Springs High School offers chances for students to take challenging courses in mathematics and science, but not in other subjects. In these required classes, such as history or government, the material seems boring to those students who could be learning at a higher level.

If students were grouped, they would be able to tackle material at a more challenging level. To help the teachers stay on a more even slate in the classroom, with all the students, the higher performing groups could do extra projects or cross-curricular activities. This would help keep all the students actively involved in their studies, instead of robotically taking notes or reciting facts.