Gifted education and flexible ability grouping

Thank you Davis Enterprise for running Vivian Yee’s story from the New York Times on June 25, regarding the increasing use of ability grouping by public school teachers. Yee explains that ability-grouping is increasingly common all over the nation, with 61% of fourth grade teachers grouping students by ability in math in 2011. Flexible ability grouping, according to the teachers and principals interviewed by Yee, “has become indispensable” and helps teachers “cope with widely varying levels of ability and achievement.” The strategy prevents advanced students in math or language arts from being bored or frustrated, and yet offers a dynamic option where students can move from grade-level to more challenging or less challenging groupings as their needs require.

Flexible ability grouping can provide an excellent alternative to rigid self-contained classes for gifted students in Davis, and I urge district decision-makers to use it more in the future. This is the type of differentiated instruction in mixed ability classrooms that many in Davis have been requesting for a long time, as explained by Proposing Alternatives in Gifted Education (PAGE) on its website found at davislearningtogether.org.

Karen Hamilton

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