Encyclopedia of Mathematics Education

2014 Edition
| Editors: Stephen Lerman

Ability Grouping in Mathematics Classrooms

  • Jo BoalerEmail author
Reference work entry
DOI: https://doi.org/10.1007/978-94-007-4978-8_145


Ability means a certain amount of intelligence that individuals are thought to possess. Ability grouping is a generic term to encompass any grouping, whether it be within class or between classes, flexible or inflexible, that involves students being separated according to perceptions of their ability.

The term setting is used for grouping organization used in England whereby students attend different classes according to ideas of their ability. In primary schools there are typically 2–4 sets for mathematics; secondary schools may have as many as 10 sets. The varying sets move at a different pace and cover different mathematics content. Streaming is an older practice used in England whereby students were grouped by ability for all of their subjects together. This was used in secondary schools with students frequently being placed into streamed groups as soon as they started the schools. Tracking is an organizational practice used in the USA whereby different classes are...

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Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media Dordrecht 2014

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.School of EducationStanford UniversityStanfordUSA