He Whakaaro: Does streaming work? A review of the evidence Publications
This He Whakaaro describes the evidence relating to fixed ability grouping, and in particular, streaming practices in Aotearoa New Zealand and around the world. These practices are widespread and longstanding in schools. This report summarises existing research literature on the impacts of fixed ability grouping, particularly streaming, on learners and the education system.
Author(s): Ariarne Davy
Date Published: December 2021
- There is a large body of evidence that fixed ability grouping and streaming practices limit the opportunities, aspirations, expectations and subsequently learning outcomes of learners allocated to middle and lower ability groups.
- There is mixed evidence that learners in high ability groups are any better off when grouped or streamed by ability.
- On average, the risks of fixed ability grouping and streaming are outweighing the benefits in our education system.
- Research from Aotearoa New Zealand is mostly in English medium settings. Little is known about grouping practices in Māori medium.
- International evidence and local experience indicate Māori and Pacific learners are likely to more often be wrongly allocated to lower ability groups and streams. This is because group placement often happens not only based on prior achievement but on assumptions about ethnicity, socio-economic background, gender, and disability.
- Research indicates that more flexible adaptive approaches to differentiating instruction benefit all learners, mitigating the risks of streaming. Groups should be flexible, changing with learners’ variable confidence with concepts, responses to instruction, interests, motivations and social connections.
Education Data Requests
If you have any questions about education data please contact us:
Email: Requests EDK
Phone: +64 4 463 8065