Low Tier Segregation In Schools

1795 Words 8 Pages
One important factor of ability tracking is the tier structure of classes within a school. Each tier differs in difficulty yet ideally works to maintain similar educational paces in comparison to one another; however, educational gaps between low tier and high tier students only widen as the student moves through grade levels, indicating that other factors need to be considered. Gamoran (1995) conducted a study that found differences in the educational quality of classes in different tiers. He found that high tier students are engaged in more in-class discussion and are asked more questions encouraging students to provide their own thoughts on class material than low tier students. Low tier students instead are asked more often about minor …show more content…
While this argument seems to put the needs of low-ability students at the forefront of the argument, often these low tier classes do not provide students the chance to catch up with their high tier peers but rather provide a place where students with less ability would succeed because classes are significantly less challenging (Oakes & Guiton 1995). One notable group of students especially at risk of low tier academic stagnancy are English learners. More than 10% of American students are English learners and are placed into English-as-a-second-language (ESL) classes. To accommodate for limited English skills, ESL classes are substandard, often limited to remedial course-work. At the onset of English learning, this may make sense: Provide ESL students with classes that are basic and understandable to students unfamiliar with the language. However, even after adequate English is learned, a large portion of ESL students do not progress to high tier classes and remain in low tier classes. In the case that a student negotiated entry into high tier classes, that student gained complex communication skills, while those in low tier classes learned to respond and repeat at a very shallow level (Callahan 2005). This finding …show more content…
School delinquency and ability grouping are linked in one study, finding higher rates of delinquency in students placed in low tier classes (Jenkins 1995). Since teachers in low tier classes may have lower expectations of their students, as well as less encouragement for future success, these students can suffer lasting damage to their self-images. Often, this feeling of incompetence can lead students towards delinquent acts, as well as less commitment towards school due to a lack of motivation. In extreme cases, students may even result to dropping out of school. Many minority and low socioeconomic status students face this inadequacy, believing they are naturally unable to succeed in school. This self-image often persists in the minds of students, even when offered the opportunity to move up in the tiers. Yonezawa (2002) studied how students would react to an attempt at eliminating the barriers between academic tiers. Given the freedom of choice, African American and Latino students in the low tier actually resisted entering high tier classes. A simple explanation is that these low tier students believe themselves to be placed correctly in the tier they can succeed in academically. Many students did attest to this reason; however, the students themselves do not realize the effect ability grouping has had on

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