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Integrating classrooms in more ways than one: Pros? Cons?

Should classes have a mix of high-performing and low-performing students? It would be great if everyone could have individualized attention, but that’s not possible. Some think that high-performing students can help inspire low-performing students. Mixed classes can form a sense of unity and cooperation. Others believe that it is unfair to have mixed classrooms because high-performing students are not challenged enough while low-performing students can struggle to keep up. Therefore, a nice middle-ground is giving students who are at the end of the spectrum individualized attention. More advanced classes would challenge those who are prepared to be challenged, while classes for low-performing students would focus on the basics to make sure that the students understand what they are learning. Everyone learns in a different way. But people can’t be lumped into groups. How are students defined as high and low-performing? Test scores alone should not determine how well a student understands something, although this seems to be the only variable teachers are using to categorize their students. If this is so, separating children who get good test scores from the others will not necessarily work, because there will always be students who fully understand the topic, while others are simply good at taking tests. Obviously, students should be challenged, so if a teacher feels that they are not fully being challenged in their class something must be done to accommodate them. Within a mixed class, things as simple as separating the class into groups to work on different levels of problems can allow for students to challenge themselves. Those who understand the topic can work on challenging problems while those who do not can work on easier problems. Peers can often be the best teachers. It is unfair to label children from an early age as high or low-performing and set them on certain tracks. Different students are good at different things. It is up to the teacher to get every student on the same page and make sure that everyone is challenged to the best of their ability.

What are your views on mixed-classrooms? Let us know!