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 Heterogeneous v. Homogenous Grouping 
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As I was reading the information regarding tracking and grouping I began to think about the environment we develop within our schools. As we have read throughout the semester, there are still schools out there who suffer from inequality. The push has been for integration of students of all backgrounds and ethnicities. Segregration is supposedly a thing of the past. Yet, when we bring all these students together in school, what do we do once they arrive, we segregate them according to ability levels. We say it is according to ability levels (and it is), but it often times it is actually seperates the children of higher and lower incomes, genders, and children from different races. Children realize early on who can and who can't. We have them decide the track they are going to follow before they ever arrive in high school, with very little chance to change their mind once they arrive. It is the easiest way to do things and can be very successful if done properly, but it can also be a great benefit to all children if they can interact with one another. As I read this information, I couldn't help but think of the movie, "Educating Peter." He was child with Down Syndrome who was placed into a normal third grade classroom for the year. It was a struggle for him, the teacher, and his fellow students throughout the year. However, everyone involved was pleased with the experience and felt they had grown as well. Peter's struggles continued through high school, but he was able to experience dates, jobs, and was a member of the schools soccer team. This is note even an option for many of our lower students, much less those without disabilities. It may sound as if I am entirely for heterogeneous grouping. I do think that students and teachers can benefit from the experience. I also believe that some students would not give up or in as easily if they were not stuck in the "dumb" kids classes. However, if students of all ability levels are given equal instruction and are pushed to succeed, homogeneous grouping can be just as successful.

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Dustin H. Farmer


Wed Oct 22, 2008 11:25 am
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I agree with placing students in regular classrooms and grouping with students of differing ability levels. However, on the flip side of that, there are those out there who push it to the extreme. I have seen many students show tremendous progress through being mainstreamed into a regular classroom. The interaction alone boosts those students' self esteem and drives them to perform better...a kind of positive influence. Students who were withdrawn before may become outspoken when not required to produce written answers. They may find many areas in which they excel. There are those out there though who push the regular classroom setting for students who are severely disabled. Being a teacher with a severly disabled students placed among students with low IQs, it sometimes can have a more negative effect than a positive. My student is extremely self-conscious and knows everyone looks at him differently. He cannot write, cannot read and is almost completely non-verbal. He cries because he sees the other students work independently and he cries because he cannot use his hands. The law reuqires us to place him in his "least restrictive environment", not subject him to feelings of despair each day. I have seen both sides, and the debate continues. Is the removal of ability grouping what is best? In most instances I would say it is. I truly believe though it should be based on a case by case basis and not a blanket decision for every student in America!

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Deby R Johnson


Wed Oct 22, 2008 1:43 pm
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I totally agree with Deby, as a regular education classroom teacher I have had students with special needs that have really excelled in the regular classroom, but I have also seen students who don't seem to get very much out of coming into the regular classroom, and keep the other students from getting what they are supposed to from the lesson. Like Deby said in some cases I think this is the best situation for everyone involved, but in some cases it doesn't work for anyone.

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Travis Richardson


Wed Oct 22, 2008 3:17 pm
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As this school year progresses this topic of ability grouping is becoming dearer to my heart. My EC background pushes me to be an advocate for heterogeneous grouping. However, this year it is being challenged due to budget cuts and loss of teaching positions. These issues have given us little choice but to go to a more homogeneous grouping concept. My EC students have to be piled into classes in order to receive my services. We do not have enough ECTs to split them into different classrooms. Low level students are put in one or two classrooms per grade. Is this fair?
I do think and have experienced the successes of ability grouping. We tried this concept for nine weeks to try to increase scores and it worked. I do not think it is fair to say that in all cases ability grouping will not work. I do believe ability grouping has lots of things that hinder progress. 1 - Most of the time more behavior problems emerge from the low level students. You must find ways to motivate them to want to do well. 2 - You must have the right teacher. The teacher that can reach this low level group must be one that thinks out of the box and does not care to try different things. The teacher should also look at this group of students as being worthy and should strive to make a difference. Lots of times the principal will make the decision to give the least effective teacher this group of students because they will not make it anyway. The teacher ends up resenting the teaching assignment and the students are miserable as well. You must find the right balance and what works for one group of students may not work for another group.

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Jennifer Blankenship


Mon Oct 27, 2008 9:35 pm
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The state helps to group students when they are required to choose a standard course of study. In the past, there was occupational, career, college tech prep, and college. Students had the option of choosing but they were still classified into a group. Students are well aware of the stigmas associated with each option and often choose a course of study based on preception and friend choice. For the 2009/2010 school year, students will only have the option of Future Ready. If they are not capable of meeting the requirements for this course of study, then they must submit a waiver. There will still be an occupational course of study. How will students feel if they have to submit a waiver? Will our drop-out rates increase? Why do we have to label everything?

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Callie Grubb


Wed Oct 29, 2008 1:51 pm
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I think that both ways have their place and importance. In my grade level the students are grouped heterogeneously most of the time, but for reading groups we switch to a homogeneously mix. This really helps with the pace and delivery of the lesson as well as student interest.

As to the labeling issue; I feel we do this automatically in everything, especially if you are a type of person who organizes things. It is natural for people to group like things or people to help us understand them. This can be good and bad. I feel that the strict groups within schools are very bad. Even when we in second grade group in reading groups we change things around every 9 weeks if not more.

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Holly McClure


Tue Nov 04, 2008 8:51 pm
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