Evaluation of the Effects of Ability Grouping in Sixth-grade Math at ABC Elementary

This quantitative evaluation study endeavored to determine the effectiveness of the ability-grouped math classes at ABC Elementary. The main research question for this study was “Is the current practice of ability grouping in sixth-grade math at ABC Elementary a system that promotes academic gains on standardized tests and a positive self-efficacy in math for all students?” Research in the area of ability grouping suggested that leveling students by ability could promote social inequalities and academic consequences. While other studies in this field have found that different types of grouping students may benefit them. The math class participants in this research study were 211 sixth-grade math students enrolled in ABC Elementary over the period of three years, from 2010-2013. The researcher analyzed growth on fifth and sixth-grade standardized tests for growth, and middle school math placement test scores to chart gains or losses for sixth-grade students. A self-efficacy survey was also used to determine if students were in agreement with their math class placement and whether they were developing a positive self-efficacy in math while participating in their homogeneous math class. The conclusions of this study were that majority of students at ABC Elementary were performing well in math and had developed a positive self-efficacy. However, the findings also suggested that not all students felt their current math class challenged them, and that students participating in the accelerated class were experiencing a larger percentage of academic score declines than the other math class levels.