Social and Philosophical Foundations of Education
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Is Ability Grouping Equitable?
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Author:  Lori Standish [ Mon Sep 04, 2006 10:13 pm ]
Post subject:  Is Ability Grouping Equitable?

I feel that I do a good job of ability grouping within my classroom. My groups are flexible for math and reading. They are not whole day or between class tracking groups. Therefore students can move between groups within my classroom. I assess students in math & literacy each week and make adjustments acordingly. I teach all of the groups so I am not locked into the assignment of teaching the lowest group. I have just as high expectations for my lower students as my higher ones.
I agree that more time is devoted to behavior in lower groups and less instruction. This is why this groups often gets more of my time. They also have time with the teacher assistant or tutor at other times during the day.

Author:  Bobbi Faulkner [ Mon Sep 04, 2006 10:33 pm ]
Post subject:  I think so! (Ability groups are equitable)

It sounds to me that your way of grouping, teaching to those groups, and your rationale behind it is very sound. I think that ability grouping when used properly is equitable and can be very beneficial. Students learn best when they can get individualized attention/education and that seems to happen best when done in groups. In fact, the National Boards has as as one of its standards that teachers use groups to meet students individualized needs, and I recall reading in one of the lengthy standards that equitable does not necessarily mean equal. I'll pull out my instructions and such and see if I can locate the exact phrasing...

Author:  Lisa Wade [ Sat Sep 09, 2006 2:28 pm ]
Post subject: 

Bobbi, something you said about equitable doesn't mean equal has been a major driving force behind my teaching. One of my most unfavorite statements from children is, "It's not fair." One of my students chose to start a battle with me over the support I was giving to a student labeled EMD. What isn't fair is that little girl with EMD would give her life to have a solid education in which she could perform consistently and achieve as quickly as her peers so she could be a teacher. What isn't fair is that because she has a disablity, she may study for hours longer than a more able peer and still not make the grade while that more able peer just listens to instruction and earns a good grade. What isn't fair is that kids with great abilities waste them and don't realize how fortunate they are. That is why equitable doesn't mean equal. I can't do the same things for those "able" kids who don't care about their education as I can for those who want to learn.

Author:  Elizabeth Lawson [ Sat Sep 09, 2006 5:33 pm ]
Post subject: 

I certainly agree that equitable doesn't mean equal. I believe most all of us, as teachers try very hard to give equal instruction to all our students, but there are always variables that seem to make a difference. Some students seem to desire to learn more so than others. Some students have learning disablities/handicaps that cause them to have a harder time learning. Some have better advantages in their homes than others, as far as resources, educational level and value of the parents, and a stable, caring homelife where all the child's physical and emotional needs are met. Even though I do try to "deliver" a very equal education to my students, there are certain variables that can change the equality of the education my students receive that is beyond my control.

Author:  Lori Standish [ Sun Oct 08, 2006 9:35 pm ]
Post subject: 

The statement that equitable dosesn't always mean equal reminds me of something we learned at a workshop a few years back. Equal doesn't mean everyone getting the same thing. Equal is everyone getting what they need to succeed. As teachers we need to meet each student's individual needs. Some might get extra help, remediation, or enrichment. Two children may be taught the same thing in different ways. As long as all students are succeeding and moving ahead their education is equitable. Even though it might not be equal.

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