Internet insights

If you want a wider range of pupils to do better in tests and exams, abandon rigid streaming and setting, never create whole classes on the basis of ability, and do not offer low-level courses with no academic future for the "low achievers". So says Professor Adam Gamoran of the University of Wisconsin-Madison.

He bases his conclusions on research in the United States, Israel and Scotland. He suggests ways of avoiding the most divisive consequences of setting and streaming. Less experienced or effective teachers should not be allocated to low-abilitygroups.

If children have not mastered basic maths with strong teacher direction, there is little point making them repeat the experience each year. Getting them talking with an able teacher might be a better strategy.

He warns against changing the system you already have if you are not going to improve the teaching and insist on high standards for all. Systems do not get results, teachers and pupils do. The professor's April presentation to the Centre for Educational Sociology at the University of Edinburgh is at www.ed.ac.ukcesconferencesAdam_post.htm. Illustrative slides are at www.ed.ac.ukcesconferencesAdam_slides.pdf

Readers can email suggestions on future Internet Insights to Sam Saunders at J.P.Saunders@leeds.ac.uk

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