Educators Liability: Old Teaching Methods Gain Popularity

Educators Liability: Old Teaching Methods Gain Popularity

An (old) new teaching method has emerged in the classroom. Grouping students by ability, once derided by critics as causing inequality, is seeing resurgence.

According to the New York Times, ability groupings are re-emerging in classrooms across the country. A new analysis shows that 71% of fourth-grade teachers surveyed grouped students by reading ability in 2009- an increase from 28% in 1998.

Ability grouping and tracking had been discarded in the late 1980s and 1990s. Ability grouping is when elementary-school teacher arrange classrooms by ability, placing high-achieving students in one cluster, the lowest in another. Tracking, similar to grouping, has children take different classes based on their proficiency levels. Critics contended the practices encourage inequality and trapped poor and minority students in low-level groups. But the trend has seen a reversal lately.

The practice was also abandoned because dividing students in groupings ultimately divided them according to traits that were related to their academic achievement such as race and class. Others were concerned that confining students to a certain track or group would hinder their education and potential for future success. But teachers and principals who utilize grouping say the practice is indispensable because it helps teach groups of students with varying levels of ability and achievement.

The opinions on ability grouping’s success as a teaching method vary widely across the board. Some say it inhibits students and can put down their self-esteem. Others argue the opposite and say grouping allows different students to learn at their own pace without feeling like they are being put-down or holding back faster workers.

Technology could also play a role in this resurgence, as they allow students to learn and work at different speeds. And of course, the groups are not designed to be permanent, as they vary according to subject and each individual student’s progress.

What do you think about the resurgence in ability grouping? We’d love to hear from you.

PGUI Educators Liability and Employment Practices Liability programs are tailored specifically for public, parochial and nonprofit private school entities including colleges, universities and vocational training schools. Contact us today for more information 804-272-6557