In classes which are divided into groups on the basis of ability, the higher ranked students are frequently called upon by the teacher for the purpose of showing what they have learned in class. By contrast, the lower ranked students are generally ignored unless the teacher is reprimanding or otherwise punishing them for disruptive behavior. However, as pointed out Rist (1970), this does not mean that the lower ranked students have failed in learning what has been taught in class. Rather, this shows that "the patterns of classroom interaction established by the teacher [has] inhibited the low-status children from verbalizing what knowledge they had accumulated" (Rist, 1970, p. 86). Because of the teacher's expectation that such students can never learn anything, the lower ranked children are "shut out" from contributing to the educational process that they are supposedly participating in.
Ornstein, A. C., & Levine, D. U. (1989). Social class, race, and school achievement: Problems and prospects. Journal of Teacher Education 40, pp. 17-23.
In Keeping track: How schools structure inequality, Oakes (1985) studied 25 schools with tracking systems and found that the low tracks almost always provided an inferior quality of education. Despite the assumptions to the contrary, Oakes claims that students do not learn more when they are placed in homogenous ability-based groups (p. 7). According to Oakes, homogenous groups fail to meet the needs of "low achieving" students because they: reduce self-esteem; lower aspirations; increase frustration; reduce participation; and encourage delinquent behavior (pp. 8-9). Rosenthal & Jacobson (1968) note that teachers of low track children tend to give less time and attention to their students (p. 179). This lack of attention further deprives such students of their rightful educational opportunities. Hallinan (1988) agrees that there are many disadvantages to be found in the use of ability grouping. In particular