Does Classroom Heterogeneity in Secondary Schools Affect Student Achievement?

Carola Gröhlich, Katja Scharenberg, Wilfried Bos

Abstract


How to best accommodate the variety of preconditions that students bring to their learning is a frequently asked question. The study documented in this article sought to further illuminate answers to this question by focusing on whether the conditions for learning and for students’ achievement are better and higher in homogeneous or heterogeneous ability groups. Data from the longitudinal study KESS (Competencies and Attitudes of Students) were used to analyze the relationship between heterogeneity at class level (N = 514) and student achievement (N = 10036). Tracked classes were found to be more homogeneous than classes in comprehensive schools in terms of reading achievement. In relation to mathematics achievement, however, the highest track (Gymnasium) included the most heterogeneous classes. Multilevel analyses showed that achievement heterogeneity in classes had neither positive nor negative effects on individual learning.

Keywords


heterogeneity, homogeneity, ability grouping

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Journal for Educational Research Online/Journal für Bildungsforschung Online (ISSN 1866-6671)