Masters Theses

Date of Award


Degree Type


Degree Name

Master of Science


Teacher Education

Major Professor

JoAnn Cady

Committee Members

Ji-Won Son, Lisa Yamagata-Lynch


This study examines the effects of ability grouping on fifth grade students at 47 elementary schools in a large urban school district. Using disaggregated standardized test data that statistically measures achievement growth, this study analyzes gains among students assigned to prior achievement quintiles as compared to three grouping strategies: homogeneous, heterogeneous with special classes for advanced and special education, and heterogeneous ability groups.

The findings suggest that the grouping strategies used in these schools are effective for the students at these schools. Most significant is that, on average, low achieving schools are grouping students in ways that are exhibiting positive gains among low achievers. Conversely, schools with large populations of high achievers are grouping in ways that are making gains among high achievers. Average students show similar gains among all three grouping strategies. Overall, the research and data suggest the importance of using multiple data sources, knowledge of students and school culture, as well as pedagogy to determine appropriate grouping strategies for particular schools.

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