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Mixed-Abilities Versus Same-Abilities Classrooms Essay, Research Paper

Research on the social and cognitive effects of grouping students in mixed-abilities versus same-abilities classrooms is gaining increasing interest among practitioners and researchers. In hopes of attaining higher scores, many schools have adopted homogeneous ability grouping. Unlike them, our school has adopted the policy of mixed ability classes where students of different academic abilities study together in the same class. Indeed, there is a lot of research in favor of heterogeneous ability grouping, but is this beneficial to us?

Under this policy, students can have the opportunity to learn interacting and communicating with different people. People in the real world always have to learn to interact with others of differing abilities. Schools should offer learning experiences guided by well-trained professional educators focusing on authentic, real-world outcomes, even if sometimes those outcomes cannot be measured with grades or standardized test scores. Good children, in any case, are more important than good grades. Students under this policy can learn communication skills and have a better picture of how a society works in advance.

Students all learn at a different rate and they all learn in a different style or manner. However, they all can learn something important from each other under this policy no matter what students’ various IQs or abilities are. That is one of the benefits of interacting in a classroom environment – students learn from each other as well as from the teacher.

Also, the academically stronger students can increase the incentive of the weaker students to work harder. Seeing the academically stronger students getting good results, the weaker students will probably follow their examples and start to work harder too.

This policy can also prevent weaker students to have low expectations or perceptions on themselves. If they are grouped based on their abilities, it may convince someone who is in a class based on “lower ability” that he/she is dumb or limited and should not expect to achieve as much in life as the “higher ability” students. We all know that low expectations of oneself usually result in a low level of accomplishment. Therefore, the current policy can avoid stereotyping any kinds of students.

Mixed-ability grouping is not a magic bullet. Education should be in the business of setting the expectations and striving to help EVERY student realize his/her full potential. I think a school should do anything that is most beneficial for students intellectual, academic, physical, dispositional, social, and emotional development, and our school is doing so now. Under the current policy of mixed ability classes, the academically more able students and the weaker students can benefit at the same time. I am not suggesting that every student should be approached the same. Effective educators will be mindful of differing learning styles and sensitive to differing personal dynamics, but they should not segregate based on ability.

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