Marcia Lynne Gentry
In this monograph, a causal-comparative, longitudinal study of cluster grouping at the elementary level is described and recommendations are made based on findings. This study employed both quantitative and qualitative methodologies. The primary purpose of this study was to examine the effects of an existing cluster grouping program on the achievement and identification of students who participated in the program from third through fifth grade and to compare achievement with similar students who were not involved in a cluster grouping program. Descriptive and inferential statistics were used to address these areas. A secondary purpose of this study was to investigate the practices of the teachers who taught in the school using cluster grouping to help provide insight into their classrooms and the school, which was done using qualitative follow-up methods.
Results included more students being identified as high achieving during the 3 program years, achievement scores increasing within the school using cluster grouping, and a significant interaction between the treatment and comparison school in favor of the treatment school. Additionally, qualitative findings indicated that teachers used flexible grouping, gifted education strategies, had high yet realistic expectations of their students, and were involved in professional development in gifted education.
Promoting Student Achievement and Exemplary Classroom Practices Through Cluster Grouping: A Research-Based Alternative to Heterogeneous Elementary Classrooms
Marcia Lynne Gentry
- Placing high achievers together in one classroom challenges those students, enabling other students to become academic leaders and allowing new talent to emerge.
- Cluster grouping makes it easier for teachers to meet the needs of students in their classrooms by reducing the achievement range of students within a classroom.
- Cluster grouping used in conjunction with challenging instruction and high teacher expectations may improve how teachers view their students with respect to ability and achievement.
- Achievement scores improved over a three-year period for students in a cluster group environment and the number of students identified as high achievers increased.
- Flexible grouping within and between classes that reduces the achievement range of each class can provide many benefits to all students and teachers.
- The positive effects of cluster grouping result from many changes in the school climate such as:
- creating opportunities for staff development, emphasizing a variety of instructional strategies;
- raising teacher expectations;
- creating a sense of ownership;
- reducing the range of achievement levels in classrooms;
- creating opportunities for collaboration with colleagues and administration.