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Re: [Mpls] Doug Mann for School Board / "Closing the Gap"
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Date:     3/8/2002

Comment made in an off-list Email:

> I am also hearing, from
>  both parents and educators, that ability grouping is a good thing for
>  high-achieving kids because it keeps them challenged

An enriched curriculum and a focus by the teacher on individualized educational assessment and planning is what challenges the high-achieving kids.  The same approach works with the underachievers, but that's not the approach that's taken with a majority of students in the Minneapolis Public Schools. Effective teaching is based on a process of individualized assessment and planning.

In my opinion, ability-grouping practices are an obstacle to effective teaching. I have invariably seen MPS teachers in grades K-3 heavily engaged in tutorial activity that could be done by the students themselves.  That's why, even with small class sizes, many children who have been continuously enrolled in the Minneapolis Public don't learn critical reading skills, like how to sound out words.  If phonics is taught at all, the "low-ability" students cover very little ground.  It's the same story with math, science, etc.
Kids assigned to "low-ability" groupings generally stay there for the duration.

Doug Mann