Ability Grouping in Education by Judith Ireson

By Judith Ireson

Skill Grouping in schooling offers an summary of skill grouping in schooling. The authors contemplate selective education and talent grouping inside colleges, comparable to streaming, banding surroundings and within-class grouping.

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Qxd 19-Jul-01 3:46 PM Page 41 Does Ability Grouping Affect Pupils’ Self-image? 41 schoolwork (Gamoran and Berends, 1987; Lacey, 1974; Oakes, 1985). Oakes (1985) argued that for low track students the self-concept becomes more negative as years go by and these students tend to be critical of their ability. On the other hand, Kulik and Kulik (1992) in a meta-analysis of 13 studies found no overall effect of ability grouping on self-esteem. These studies investigated what the authors refer to as XYZ grouping, which includes both streaming and setting.

These analyses revealed that for English, mathematics and science: ● pupils who do well at the end of Key Stage 2 do better on the Key Stage 3 tests; ● pupils eligible for free school meals make less progress between Key Stages 2 and 3 than those not eligible; ● pupils’ progress is related to their attendance; ● girls make more progress than boys in English and this is particularly the case for the pupils with lower attainment at Key Stage 2; ● boys make a little more progress than girls in mathematics and science.

The authors argue that the relatively poor performance of pupils in the comprehensives was attributable to within-school factors. These included the difficulties encountered during the amalgamation of the grammar and secondary modern schools to form the new comprehensives and the lack of agreed policies. The headteachers of the new schools had been heads of grammar schools, the majority of heads of department were staff from the grammar schools, while staff from the secondary modern schools were allocated to teaching the lower streams.

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