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October 1, 1992
Vol. 50
No. 2

Reply / Nongradedness: Not Simply A Grouping Scheme

    Instructional Strategies
      As Robert Slavin indicates in his response, we are in general agreement about the positive achievement effects of nongradedness. Additionally, my research looks at the generally positive effects on mental health measures and for various disadvantaged groups. Guitérrez and Slavin (1992) report some different effects after dividing the studies into four categories. Other category systems could easily be devised that would influence the results. Individually guided education might be divided into two categories: the Wisconsin program, which has a curriculum focus; and the Kettering Program, with the multiunit, teaming focus. The 1971 Engel and Cooper study, with an effect size of +1.10 and an index of nongradedness rarely found in this research, should have been included in the four categories rather than consigned to category five for studies lacking explicit descriptions of the nongraded program.
      Researchers might debate the technical details of methods, but we remain in agreement that nongradedness generally produces positive results for children.
      I agree with Slavin that the relevance of past research to the present is uncertain. Goodlad wrote in The Nongraded Elementary School (1987), “What I would stress now, far more than I did then, would be the philosophy behind nongradedness, and this must infuse much more than merely school structure” (p. xii). Nongradedness is not simply a grouping scheme but a philosophy that demands the provision of appropriate and rich educational experiences for each child.
      References

      Goodlad, J.I., and R. H. Anderson. (1987, rev. ed.). The Nongraded Elementary School. New York: Teachers College Press.

      Guitérrez, R., and R. E. Slavin. (April 1992). “Achievement Effects of Nongraded Elementary School: A Retrospective Review.” Paper presented at the annual meeting of the American Educational Research Association, San Francisco.

      Barbara Nelson Pavan has been a contributor to Educational Leadership.

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