A comparison study of the academic effects of ability grouping versus heterogeneous grouping in mathematics instruction
This study investigated the student achievement scores of students in mathematics classrooms at Challenger Middle School, Bicentennial North Elementary School, and Mendsendick Elementary School in Glendale, Arizona. The study focused on the rate of academic growth as measured on the District Assessment Test for students progressing from grade six to grade seven. Three hundred and five students' test scores were used in this study and compared their grade six mathematics scores to the same students' scores in grade seven. The study was conducted to determine if students that were ability-grouped excelled and increased at a higher rate on assessment tests versus other students that were placed in a heterogeneous grouping for mathematics instruction. The purpose of the study was to understand the academic effects of ability grouping versus heterogeneous grouping for mathematics instruction and to determine which grouping practice expressed the most significant increases on student achievement.
While looking at the academic impacts of ability grouping versus the academic impacts of heterogeneous grouping, it was found that students that were placed in an ability-grouped classroom for mathematics instruction increased learning at a higher rate than students placed in a heterogeneous group. Additionally, when the data was disaggregated based on gender and ethnicity, students that were placed in an ability-grouped classroom had a higher level of increase on their mathematics score than similar students that were placed in a heterogeneous-grouped classroom. Implications regarding academic impacts of ability grouping and heterogeneous grouping are further discussed in this study.