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Pros and cons of ability-level grouping instead of grade levels

student grouping

You’ve thought about your curriculum and you know what kind of school you want to be. Things are coming together with your new school planning, but there are always new things to consider. One option you have as a private school is getting to decide how students will be grouped – by age groups, as is traditional in schools, or by ability, which is a newer educational philosophy.

You’re probably familiar with the concept of grouping students into grade levels based on their age and advancing forward each year. So, we’ll focus on the pros and cons of ability grouping:

Pros of ability grouping

In a traditional classroom, no matter how much teachers work to provide differentiated activities, some students are going to have an excellent grasp of the material and be bored, and others are going to need more time than average to grasp what they need. By grouping students by ability, instead, teachers are able to provide advanced instruction to students who need it, while giving struggling students more ability-appropriate activities until they have mastered the material well enough to move on.

Cons of ability grouping

The biggest potential issue is social interactions among students of potentially vastly different ages in classes together. For instance, an advanced 12-year-old student might be several years ahead in math, taking courses with 16 or 18-year-olds. In order for this system to work without negative repercussions, your school will have to plan for the social interactions between students. This is less of an issue at the high-school level, where many electives and after-school activities are already mixed-grades, but it is something to consider and plan for your older elementary and middle school students. One way to bridge the social interaction gap is with a school management system like Twine. With Twine, students can interact virtually with their classmates, as well as others in the school that they might not see in class. They can join virtual clubs and organizations and these social interactions can help supplement what they’re doing in school.

Part of the beauty of a private school is that you can experiment with some of these alternative learning models, perhaps having a mixture of ability grouping and grade-level placement, depending on the subject area.

At Twine, we are excited about helping schools, passionate about transforming learning and focused on improving student achievement. We are proud to provide technology solutions that help schools achieve their goals. Want to know more about how we can help you get your school up and running? 

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