Blogging A to Z April Challenge: L 04/14/2020

Levels: What do they mean?

When many adults were in school years ago there were groups; children have always been placed in groups by levels. Whether it is level of reading, social maturation, or even size, there seems to always be some groups. Nowadays, grouping is much more strategic and occurs less. Have you wondered why? 

Many groupings have gone away, especially in public schools. Not only it is against HIPAA rules, it can also be demoralizing and detrimental to a young person’s emotional development. Here is a scenario to explain it: 

Johnny came home from school to tell his mom and dad that they started reading a new chapter book in class. He goes on to say that the teacher has them in small groups so they can read together.  
I. “Well, Johnny, which group are you in?” 
“I’m in the red group” 
“What’s the red mean?” 
“I don’t know.” 

II. “Well, Johnny, which group are you in?” 
“I’m in Peter and Marcy’s group, and also Jessie” 
“Isn’t Jessie a slower reader than you?” 
“I don’t know” 

III. “Well, Johnny, which group are you in?” 
“I’m in group B” 
“What is group B? Shouldn’t you be in group A with the highest readers?” 
“I don’t know” 

So, you can see there is a lot of ambiguity and a lot of questions that come up. To be honest, the teacher doesn’t have to tell you how the groupings occurred. If she were to tell you, it may go against privacy laws. Maybe Peter is super low, and Johnny was put there to be a role model. Or maybe it’s the other way around. Maybe Johnny is put in that group because he is the best behaved…or the worst…? 

Here is another scenario: 

Debbie comes home from school to tell her mom and dad that they started a new math concept and they were put into groups in class. She goes on to say that the teacher put them in groups based on how good they are in math. *Understand that Debbie thinks this is why they are in groups… 
I. “Debbie, who else is in your group?” 
“Billy and Paul and Emma” 
“Isn’t Paul that little boy who is always in trouble?” 
“Yes” 
“Then why are you in his group?” 
“Because we know the same math.” 
“How can you know the same math if he is always in the Principal’s office?” 
“I don’t know” 

II. “Debbie, who else is in your group?” 
“Mark and Faith and Raheed” 
“Raheed? Where is Raheed from?” 
“My school” 
“No, what country is he from?” 
“Mine, I think. Why?” 
“Never mind” 

III. “Debbie, who else is in your group?” 
“Vince and Paula and Samson” 
“I don’t know if I like that little girl Paula. Her mother is not very nice” 
“She’s nice to me” 
“Never mind” 

Now, these are just silly scenarios I made up but there are so many problems with this that teachers now avoid groupings if they can. The problem with that is then parents wonder why there AREN’T groups. 

“Why isn’t Becky with the higher readers so she can move ahead faster?” 
“Does Billy behave or is he disruptive during reading time?” 
“Isn’t Jack special needs? Why is he learning to read with my child?” 
“I don’t think Carl is a good influence and I would rather see my child in a different group” 

What is my biggest point? Don’t worry about groupings. They are not what they used to be and do not mean what they used to mean. They may occur and the teacher may have a strategy but that is her prerogative and can assure you of your own child’s success, but not about any other children in the class.  

If you have a grave concern, ask the teacher to talk privately, without your child there. The teacher will be able to give you some sort of explanation and ease your mind, but please remember, the majority of teachers out there only have the best intentions for all the children in their classrooms.

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