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Wednesday, March 26, 2014

What happens when you 'Track' students by ability VS mixing them?

For some reason, American Educators have failed to either pay attention, study, or investigate this fundamental question about the nature of education that almost any student can quickly answer with common sense.
What happens when you divide students into groups based upon ability and have them compete? 
Here is a report about what the US Air Force found:

When American Public Schools started teaching in small, one-room school houses in rural towns, they would mix not only ability, but age groups from K-12 in the same class. The older kids would help the younger kids learn, and smart kids would help teach. In this way they learned to cooperate, to see the value in each other, and respect their peers. The older and smarter kids benefited by mastering and retaining the knowledge they learned, and gained status in their communities. The less talented children were supported and learned far more than they would have alone. The entire town benefited from the social cohesion, and teamwork.

Tracking students into competitive groups before college is a socially dangerous and unnecessary  practice. Elementary students should never be put under pressure to compete, Middle-School students should only compete in groups or classes, and High-School students should only compete in specifically defined competitive events such as science fairs, sports competitions, or poetry slams. In school, the teachers should be trained to use the fastest students to help tutor and encourage the slower students in each subject, with special attention given to the middle students as both the social glue and the ultimate gage of the mass class success.

When we work together in education, we achieve more. This is a particularly important lesson for teachers, who need to cooperate and coach each other to deal with problem students, and maximize performance. Leaving failing teachers to struggle on their own only hurts the students.