I get Parade Magazine in my local newspaper every Sunday. Like many other publications, it's slowly disintegrating into another gossip magazine. But sometimes, it still delivers the more intellectual goods.
This past Sunday, Parade had this article. It's on the light side, only about a quarter of a page long, so obviously it's missing some serious research data. I was intrigued by it anyway.
Nearly all my studies in UTEC so far have proved that heterogeneous groupings are highly effective as well as culturally and socially responsive. Mixed genders, ethnicities, AND academic background.
So how does homogeneous class groups - at least in terms of academic level - work? There must be something else going on here. Like class size, teacher training/professional development, support systems outside of the classroom, et al.
All the schools I've seen at SCUSD (granted, that's only three, but still) utilize some sort of leveled groupings for some daily instruction. Usually it's English language development. Which makes since, since there are so many EL students in that district. In theory, and sometimes in reality, homogeneous academic groupings may be effective in higher student learning and retainment of content.
But I personally wouldn't use it outside of switching. Somewhere in between what the classrooms I've seen (they only switch for about 30-40 minutes on a typical day) and the all day thing that the Parade article says. Maybe 60-90 minutes a day. I do think restricting it to ELA/ELD is a smart idea. Elementary students, EL or otherwise, have tended to do better in math than in language arts in recent years.
Which is a little sad, because these kids have so much to say.
On a lighter note, I decided to do this. =) Have I mentioned before how much I love lists? No? Well, I love lists.