A blog which has re-surfaced from 2010 has raised some interest to many in the community because of it’s revolutionary ideas. Students in a Kansas school are being grouped by ability and not age-defined classes. What is refreshing is that these students are also allowed to progress to the next level, when they have mastered content. Wow! A proactive approach in response to the “the 17,000 students; abysmal test scores”. Students are in multi-aged classes, work at their own pace on projects tailored to their skill level.
Now this is not rocket science, nor will be it be “new” to anyone involved in gifted education and equity for gifted students. Ability grouping for instruction has been advocated for gifted students for decades. It is well supported in gifted research literature, with multiple academic, social and emotional benefits.Why then are school systems so loathe to try something “new”?
In this day and age when inclusive education and inclusion is mandated in many schools in Western society, surely grouping by ability and mastery makes sense. The range of ability in inclusive classes is so diverse that it almost renders teachers impotent. The very children they want and need to help – and that’s all of them – cannot and do not get their educational needs meet. Both the students with learning disabilities and the gifted do not get anywhere near appropriate provisions, and those “average” students sit idly by, watching teachers pull their hair out as they attempt to “cater” to the extremes. No-one gets any real benefits.
The ideology behind inclusion is wonderful but in practical terms, unless class sizes are reduced to a handful of children it is just not going to work.
It is time to take stock and look practically at ways that all children can have equitable educational opportunities. That means providing what each child needs, it does not mean making them all the same. They are not the same and never will be.
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I look forward to ideas, and your experiences with inclusive practice.