Home Health Parents News Now Skill-Based School Groupings Gaining Popularity Skill-Based School Groupings Gaining Popularity By Holly Lebowitz Rossi June 11, 2013 Advertisement Save Pin FB More Tweet Email Send Text Message Print shutterstock_87248872 30352 A new analysis from the National Assessment of Educational Progress, a Census-like agency for school statistics, shows that of the fourth-grade teachers surveyed, 71 percent said they had grouped students by reading ability in 2009, up from 28 percent in 1998. In math, 61 percent of fourth-grade teachers reported ability grouping in 2011, up from 40 percent in 1996. "These practices were essentially stigmatized," said Tom Loveless, a senior fellow at the Brookings Institution who first noted the returning trend in a March report, and who has studied the grouping debate. "It's kind of gone underground, it's become less controversial." The resurgence of ability grouping comes as New York City grapples with the state of its gifted and talented programs — a form of tracking in some public schools in which certain students, selected through testing, take accelerated classes together. These programs, which serve about 3 percent of the elementary school population, are dominated by white and Asian students. Christine C. Quinn, the City Council speaker who is running for mayor, has proposed expanding the number of gifted classes while broadening the criteria for admission in hopes of increasing diversity. (The city's Education Department has opposed the proposal, saying that using criteria other than tests would dilute the classes.) Teachers and principals who use grouping say that the practice has become indispensable, helping them cope with widely varying levels of ability and achievement. Image: School children, via Shutterstock By Holly Lebowitz Rossi Save Pin FB More Tweet Email Send Text Message Print Comments Add a Comment Be the first to comment! No comments yet. Advertisement Close this dialog window Add a comment Skill-Based School Groupings Gaining Popularity Add your comment... Cancel Submit Success! Thanks for adding your feedback.