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Ability Grouping Ability Grouping

Some of these same multicultural conditions are present today (Slavin, 1988, p. 68). In a 1973 review of research done between 1960 and 1972, Esposito indicated that attitudes and self-concepts of children of low ability might be impaired by ability grouping (Winn & Wilson, 1983, p. 119).

Oakes and Lipton place the history of ability grouping in a social and economic context. According to these two authors, conditions at the turn of the century shaped how the country viewed schools and their mission. Cities were in a deplorable decline, immigration was rising, and factory-based industry caused social crises in every aspect of the American society (Oakes & Lipton, 1990, p. 165). Society turned to the institution of schools in order to find solutions to changes of such major proportion.

Everyone concerned with education--parents, policymakers, and teachers--saw that schools could teach immigrants the American ways. Schools could supervise adolescents and teach them to become factory workers. Schools were believed to be an avenue for upward mobility, and budding professionals learned the higher-status knowledge needed for future work (Oakes & Lipton, 1990, p. 165). Philosophically, the underlying belief for ability grouping practices in the early years was that there really isn't enough good education to go around (Oakes & Lipton, 1990, p. 165). Unfortunately, this mode


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