To challenge students at an appropriate level, we believe that the middle school should have split math groups in the fifth and sixth-grade. At the moment, only the seventh and eighth-grade students are split into different classes for math which accommodates a variety of levels and paces for all. This is important because students will be able to be comfortable in their learning environment and work with others who are at a similar level.
In our middle school, the fifth graders stopped having split math groups in 2012 and the sixth grade stopped in 2013. Sixth-grade math teacher Mrs. Laura Brown was the head of the mathematics department at the time when fifth and sixth grades also had math groups adjusted for the average level of the students in the grade and advanced math groups. “The reason why years ago we decided to have groupings was because we used to get so many students from different curriculums,” Mrs. Brown said. “We didn’t think it was fair to have everyone mixed.”
The math department decided to only have one math level class for the fifth and sixth grade because there was much research which proved that creating the stress of being at ‘the right level’ was detrimental towards students.
On the other hand, there are students constantly coming and going to and from different schools so teachers have to juggle various curriculums, levels, and strategies students have been exposed to. According to Mrs. Shivik, an eighth-grade math teacher, “it’s difficult to be teaching all kids the same material but going at different speeds.”
If the middle school divided fifth and sixth graders into groups, it enables students to work at their own speed. Also, it is easier for the teachers because they will be able to work with kids who are all on a related level.
According to “Teach,” an online website and magazine which educates about a variety of topics wrote, “Still, meeting multiple curriculum expectations and responding to increased student needs—often with limited resources—is a challenge. But teachers and students can thrive in these classes.”
The current math groups in seventh and eighth grade include grade level and advanced. It is possible for stronger students to advance into a higher grade’s math group. For example, some seventh-graders are in eighth grade advanced and some eighth-graders are in a high school math class to accommodate their needs.
Although we understand why teachers made this switch, we still believe that it is beneficial to have split math groups. It is a smart way to structure the classes and accommodate students with various learning strengths. This is something that should be seriously considered among the middle school mathematics department.