Is ability grouping in elementary school a good thing?

Percy L. Abram, PhD discusses the advantages of ability grouping in the classroom
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Is ability grouping in elementary school a good thing?

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One of the questions I get a lot in my role as a principal is ability grouping in math, and what it means to have a student in a lower pace group than in a faster paced group. And I tell parents all the time, the reasons that we have ability grouping at our school is to give the students the right environment for them to feel comfortable about the work that they're doing, to gain confidence in the work that they're doing, and to have the students work at a pace that's appropriate for them. We often find that there is some fluidity in the classes that we offer. So students who may start off in 6th grade at a lower-paced group, by the time they're at the end of the 6th grade year or at the beginning of their 7th grade year, there may be a click, and their abstract reasoning skills develop. We know that abstract reasoning will develop in students developmentally at different stages along the way. Some will pick it up at the end of their 7th grade year. Some will pick it up when they're freshman in high school. I think it's really hard for us as educators to put students in an environment where the skill set that we're asking for doesn't match where they are developmentally. But we also have an understanding that those development stages will come for all students. But we want them to be in an environment where they feel comfortable and confident in the work that they're doing.

Percy L. Abram, PhD discusses the advantages of ability grouping in the classroom

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Percy L. Abram, PhD

Head of School

Percy Abram is the Head of Gateway School.  Gateway School is a Kindergarten – 8th grade independent school in Santa Cruz, CA.  Prior to joining Gateway School, Dr. Abram was the Upper Division Director at Brentwood School in Los Angeles.  An LA native, Dr. Abram received his B.A. (Economics) and M.A. (Education) degrees from UCLA, and his M.A. (Sociology) and Ph.D. (Education) from Stanford University.  Dr. Abram and his wife are the parents of a 10-year old daughter and 7-year old son, and despite running a school and being responsible for 260 students each day, he still finds parenting his most challenging job.

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