Although this topic doesn’t revolve around the main theme of Special Education, I believe it still relates to grouping students based on their abilities and developmental levels. The debate over tracking and leveling comes down to students having the possibility of feeling isolated into groups. Tom Loveless (1998) argues that there is not enough research to back the points regarding discrimination of students being labeled as underachievers. This method of teaching actually helps students and gets them to the next level, teaching them appropriate material that is not overwhelmingly challenging. Jeannie Oakes (1999) writes that tracking groups actually works to isolate students that harms students academic image. Students are assumed that have all the same learning capabilities based on their tracking group.
I can see the benefit of having students together, working on similar material that is appropriate for them. These groups should be regularly assessed and flexible enough for students to move in and out of different groups. There is always the fear of isolation and separation with our classes which is something to avoid. There is a right way to handle ability tracking without allowing those feelings of entitlement and poor self worth. “Grouping is a more flexible, less permanent arrangement of students that takes into account factors in addition to ability, such as motivation, interests, instructional levels, and student efforts.” (Renzulli and Reis, 1991) The difference between tracking and grouping should be distinguished so students do not feel like they are identified at a certain level. These groupings can be helpful and effective to challenge student thinking and learning.
Renzulli and Reis. (1991) The Reform Movement and the Quiet Crisis in Gifted Education. Gifted Child Quarterly. (35, 26-35)