Monday, June 10, 2013

What about "ability groupings" in schools?

The New York Times has a story about the resurgence of ability groupings in public schools, at least in New York, in a story by Vivian Yee  with emphasis on grade schools, link here

 When I went to grade school in the 1950s, there was some pretense of this, in that report cards, at least in Fourth Grade, claimed that grades were related to ability, but then that was dropped.

In high school, “accelerated” courses (the precursor of AP) was an innovation, in math (algebra), physics , and chemistry.  I took only the Enriched Chemistry course in 12th grade; it gave an extra half point on the grade-point.    

Math courses in high school are sometimes “ability-grouped”, as there are slow-paced courses that cover only a half-year of algebra in a full year.

In the 1960s, at the University of Kansas, slower students could take a slower algebra course and get a grade, but the three hours would be added to the graduation requirement.
 I experienced a variation of this concept in physical education.  I always got C’s (a D in tumbling in 11th grade) but the grade did not count toward the grade point.  There could be a point in making gym count.  We did not have swimming, but I believe it’s mandatory now at Washington-Lee in Arlington VA. 

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