ERIC Identifier: ED434435
Publication Date: 1999-08-00
Author: Burnette, Jane
Source: ERIC Clearinghouse on Handicapped and Gifted Children Reston VA. ERIC/OSEP Special Project.
Student Groupings for Reading Instruction. ERIC/OSEP Digest E579.
Increasing diversity in the classroom has presented teachers with the challenge of providing appropriate reading instruction for all students in their classes, who may represent a variety of ability levels and cultures. In contrast to past practices, more of today's students with disabilities are receiving reading instruction in a general education classroom instead of a special education classroom. This practice can be expected to increase, since the 1997 reauthorization of the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act (IDEA) provides support for educating students with disabilities in the general education classroom and ensuring their right to access the general education curriculum.
Under these conditions, teachers need to know the best ways of organizing their classrooms and grouping students for instruction in order to maximize student achievement. Ability grouping, long a standard practice in reading instruction, has been criticized for lowering self-esteem and motivation among students with reading problems, and it often widens the gap between high and low achievers.
Research funded by the U.S. Office of Special Education Programs (OSEP) has identified a number of alternatives to whole-class instruction and ability grouping and provided information about their effectiveness. Such grouping formats include peer (same-age) tutoring, cross-age tutoring, small learning groups, and combined grouping formats. Some of these studies have employed meta-analysis, a way of looking at many research studies on a specified topic. The research shows that these alternative groupings produce better reading outcomes for students with and without disabilities than whole-class instruction.
SMALL LEARNING GROUPS
This practice requires teachers to plan and organize groups and to adapt instruction, methods, and materials for small group use. Benefits are greater when the materials are tailored to the needs of different students. Students with disabilities may require different materials and more direct instruction than students without disabilities.
COMBINED GROUPING FORMATS
This ERIC/OSEP digest is based on the work of Batya Elbaum, Sharon Vaughn, Marie Hughes, Sally Watson Moody and Jeanne Shay Schumm. For more information, see Elbaum, B.,Vaughn,S., Hughes,M., and Moody, S.W. (Spring 1999). Grouping practices and reading outcomes for students with disabilities, Exceptional Children, 65(3).
Jenkins, J.R., Jewell, M. O'Connor, R.E., Jenkins, L.M., & Troutner, N.M. (1991). Accommodations for individual differences without classroom ability groups: An experiment in school restructuring. Exceptional Children, 60(4), 344-58.
Mathes, P.G., Fuchs, D., Fuchs, L.S., Henley, A.M. & Sanders, A. (1994). Increasing strategic reading practice with Peabody classwide peer tutoring. Learning Disabilities Research and Practice,9(1), 44-48.
Moody, S.W., Vaughn, S. & Schumm, J.S. (1997). Instructional grouping for reading. Remedial and Special Education, 18(6), 347-356.
Mathes, P.G., & Fuchs, L.S. (1994). The efficacy of peer tutoring in reading for students with mild disabilities: A best-evidence synthesis. School Psychology Review, 23(1), 59-80.
Lou, Y., Abrami, P.C., Spence, J.C., Poulsen, C., Chambers, B., & d'Appolonia, S. (1996). Within-class grouping: A meta-analysis. Review of Educational Research, 66(4), 423-458.
Simmons, D.C., Fuchs, L.S., Fuchs, D., Mathes, P., & Hodge, J.P. (1995). Effects of explicit teaching and peer tutoring on the reading achievement of learning-disabled and low-performing students in regular classrooms. Elementary School Journal, 95, 387-408.
Swanson, H.L., Hoskyn, M., & Lee, C (1999). Interventions for students with learning disabilities: A meta-analysis of treatment outcomes. New York: Guilford Press.