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Topic: Middle School/Math/Ability Grouping
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John D. Gravelle

Posts: 1
Registered: 12/6/04
Middle School/Math/Ability Grouping
Posted: Feb 26, 1995 7:26 AM
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Hi all,

I am looking for your views concerning the following.

Please respond in PRIVATE MAIL If enough are
interested, I will summarize (with permission from private mail recipients)
what each had to say.

This year, our 7th grade moved to what our administration calls the middle
school philosophy. The principal's response to every question is that the
middle school philosophy is "heterogenous grouping." I must also add that
this district is very top-down in the decision-making process and we are
rural with almost no minority nor cultural differences.

This is a personal as well as a professional interest since my daughter is
in the 7th grade. After the school year began, my wife and I received a
letter from the school asking if our daughter could be placed in a
"mid-level" math class. In talking with math teachers from the 7th grade,
they felt that she would benefit from a pace different than the majority of
the 7th graders. To be more specific, there are (all numbers approximate)
250 7th graders, with 30 in an accelerated group, 25 in the midlevel, and
the rest at a slower pace.

Though my daughter protested some (she would need to change pods), we
convinced her and agreed to place her in the mid-level. She is happy with
the change now and is doing well.

Last week, I asked the principal what would happen in 8th grade. His
response was that middle school philosophy is "heterogenous grouping." He
has decided that there will be no ability grouping in 8th grade. EXCEPT,
for the accelerated group. He wanted to change that too but Gifted &
Talented laws in Wisconsin will not allow it. He is considering ignoring
the law.

When I asked further questions concerning pace and scope of the 8th grade
math he said middle school philosophy is "heterogenous grouping." I am
concerned about her math education in 8th grade.

I have performed several ERIC searches and see that the issue is not clear
cut. I was going to quote some here, but sometimes I think education hurts
itself with the myriad research grants that are considered definitive. It
does appear that the middle school philosophy DOES allow for ability
grouping in math. Suffice it to say that I am more interested in your
views on this specific issue. I am not afraid to go to the board, the
public, or the other 24 sets of parent(s) who probably have not heard what
will happen to their children. Yet, I want to do what is best for kids (my
daughter doesn't even know about my inquiries at this time).

When I asked him why he allowed math ability grouping in 7th if he was not
going to have it in 8th, when I asked if next years 7th graders were going
to have math ability grouping, he answered (yup) middle school philosophy
is "heterogenous grouping." He did say I should not get into such a
"tizzy" (did I spell that correctly) over this. No wonder public education
is in trouble.

My daughter is using Dolciani's (God rest her soul) newest book and her
teacher is a second year teacher with a math minor. He has augmented the
text some.

Please respond in PRIVATE MAIL If enough are
interested, I will summarize (with permission from private mail recipients)
what each had to say.


John D. Gravelle ****** Please join AISE ********
Merrill Senior High
106 Polk Street Association for International Space Educators
Merrill, WI 54452

715-536-4594 finger

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