What One Hundred Years of Research Says About the Effects of Ability Grouping and Acceleration on K–12 Students’ Academic Achievement: Findings of Two Second-Order Meta-Analyses
This paper analyzed the results of research on the effects of ability grouping and acceleration on students’ academic achievement. Nineteen meta-analyses met criteria for inclusion for the review. The researchers divided ability grouping into four types:
- between-class ability grouping, students in the same grade divided into low, medium, or high level classes;
- within-class ability grouping, students within a classroom taught in groups based on levels;
- cross-grade subject grouping, students of different grades combined into the same class depending on achievement; and
- grouping for gifted students
Results were found for improved academic achievement within-class grouping, cross-grade grouping by subject, and grouping for the gifted. No positive effects were identified for between-class grouping. The results were consistent regardless of whether students were high, medium, or low achievers. The study found acceleration appeared to have a positive, moderate, and statistically significant impact on students’ academic achievement.
Steenbergen-Hu, S., Makel, M. C., & Olszewski-Kubilius, P. (2016). What One Hundred Years of Research Says About the Effects of Ability Grouping and Acceleration on K–12 Students’ Academic Achievement: Findings of Two Second-Order Meta-Analyses. Review of Educational Research, 86(4), 849-899.