I’ll be doing a column on ability grouping & tracking over at my Education Week Teacher blog (the two part series has been posted), and thought I’d start compiling some useful materials here to share.

You might also be interested in The Best Resources On Differentiating Instruction.

This is just a beginning list, and I hope that readers will contribute more in the comments, as well as contribute stories of your direct experiences:

What Are Your Thoughts, & What Has Been Your Experience, With Ability Grouping/Tracking? is a post I published yesterday, which contains a link to a recent USA Today article, additional research, and my own thoughts on the topic. Several important comments have also been left there.

Is Tracking and Ability Grouping Making a Comeback? is from The Brookings Institution and Tom Loveless.

Do schools for ‘the gifted’ promote segregation? is from The Washington Post.

Rachel Williams contributed some interesting research from Australia.

More Teachers Group Students by Ability is from Education Week.

Review Of Does Sorting Students Improve Scores? An Analysis of Class Composition is from The National Education Policy Center.

Ability Grouping, Tracking, and How Schools Work is by Tom Loveless.

Could This Be Everything You Wanted to Know About Tracking But Were Afraid to Ask? is an older, but very useful, post from Education Week (thanks to Jonathan R. Werner for the tip).

Think Twice Disputes NBER’s Ability Grouping Conclusions is from Education News.

Research Overwhelmingly Counsels an End to Tracking is from the National Education Policy Center.

Michelle Newsum: Tracking Our Way to Wider Achievement Gaps is from Education Week.

The Bottom Line On Student Tracking is from The Washington Post.

Grouping by Ability in Classrooms Is Back in Fashion. Is This Good For Kids? is by Dana Goldstein at Slate.

The Big Sort: How Chicago’s school choice system is tracking kids into separate high schools based on achievement is from Chicago Public Media.

Quote Of The Day: “Differentiation Does, in Fact, Work”

What Are The School Implications Of New Chetty Study On Geographical Mobility?

The image from this next tweet comes from the article, Why Ability Grouping Doesn’t Work, by Peter DeWitt:

Why Do We Label Our Students? is by Peter DeWitt.

Ability grouping of students doesn’t work is from Psych Brief.

Starting to think about tracking is from Teaching With Problems. It’s not a new study. However, it’s a good summary of the existing research.


EEF Blog: Grouping pupils by attainment – what does the evidence say? is from The Education Endowment Foundation.

Should Teachers Track Students is from Slate.

Best practice in grouping students is from University College London.

Children harmed by school streaming into lower ability groups, UK study shows is from The Guardian.

And here’s another interesting new paper on tracking, which finds that it doesn’t help student achievement and, instead, contributes to school inequality:

This meta-analysis examines the effects of sorting secondary students into different tracks (“between-school” tracking) or classrooms (“within-school” tracking) on the efficiency and inequality levels of an educational system. Efficiency is related to the overall learning achievement of students, whereas inequality can refer to “inequality of achievement” (i.e., the dispersion of outcomes) or “inequality of opportunity” (i.e., the strength of the influence of family background on student achievement). The selected publications are 53 analyses performed in the period from 2000 to 2021, yielding 213 estimates on efficiency and 230 estimates on inequality. The results show that the mean effect size (Hedge’s G) of tracking on efficiency is not statistically significant (G = −.063), whereas it is significantly positive (G = .117) on inequality.

The Effect of School Tracking on Student Achievement and Inequality: A Meta-Analysis is a new study.

As mentioned earlier, I expect this list to expand, and I hope quickly. Please share your suggestions….

If you found this post useful, you might want to look at previous “The Best…” lists and also consider subscribing to this blog for free.