Publication Date


Document Type


First Advisor

Hull, Marion A.||Belnap, Ralph A.

Degree Name

M.S. (Master of Science)

Legacy Department

Department of Education


Ability grouping in education


Purpose. The study was made to determine the effectiveness of the ungraded primary organization in providing for the individual differences in young children, with particular attention to the organizational features and merit of such programs in four school districts in the Chicago suburban area. Procedure. All available literature concerning the ungraded organization was examined. Based upon this information a questionnaire was devised to aid in evaluating and studying four selected schools in the Chicago suburban area. This questionnaire included the areas of classification, evaluation, curriculum changes, teacher cycling, parental reaction, and special problems which arise as a result of the ungraded organization. Visitation of each school included observations in one or more classrooms, as well as an interview with the administrator and/or teacher. During the interview the questionnaire was administered. Responses were then tabulated and compared in order to analyze general organizational features and characteristics of the plan. Principal Findings. In each of the four schools reading readiness and achievement were used as the means for classifying and determining progress through the ungraded primary school. Two of the four schools reported moving children from one group to another at any time during the school year, but the other two schools discouraged shifting after Christmas except in extreme cases. Children were seldom advanced through the ungraded primary school in less than three years. Percentages of children who spent four years in the ungraded primary schools involved in this study, varied from 2 up to as much as 20 per cent of the children in the ungraded primary school. Each of the schools used some combination of the parent-teacher conference in reporting to parents, and reported that with adequate orientation parental acceptance of the ungraded plan was good. Two of the schools reported that little curriculum change was necessary in becoming ungraded, while the other two indicated much change due to more freedom of subject matter and the stressing of teacher creativity. Teacher and parent orientation and acceptance was listed by three of the schools as a major problem in the ungraded organization. The added administrative burden of pupil placement was also mentioned. Procedures observed in the ungraded classrooms were very similar to the practices one might see in a graded classroom. Conclusions. Upon careful review of the literature and critical analysis of the data disclosed in this study, the writer of this paper has drawn the following conclusions: 1. Theoretically, the ungraded school type of organization provides an excellent means of providing for individual differences. Practically, adequate administration and organization often become too burdensome, and the theory gives way to compromise. 2. Schools which profess to be nongraded are, in reality, still adhering to rigid standards because they have not changed their practices or reorganized their curriculum as part of the ungrading program. 3. There is a danger that schools which use reading levels as a basis for grouping may become even more rigid in their standards than the traditional graded schools. 4. Schools which do not allow for movement of pupils from one group to another at any time of the year defeat the very purpose for which they were organized--the continuous progress of children according to individual needs. 5. There is a need for more objective data to validate the claims made by advocates of the ungraded organization. Recommendations. The following recommendations are made to schools anticipating the adoption of the ungraded program: 1. In considering the change to the ungraded organization the school should study its situation completely to determine whether such a program can best fit its needs. The ungraded organization is not the answer to every problem. Some schools may find it merely adds to the problems rather than solves them. 2. Complete staff understanding and approval is mandatory early in the planning stages. 3. Attention must be given to curriculum revision which may be necessary in adapting to the nongraded situation. 4. If reading achievement is used as a basis for classification, adequate evaluation techniques and flexibility of grouping must be maintained to insure proper placement and provision for individual differences. 5. A continuous and comprehensive parent-education program is necessary for any school system which adopts the ungraded primary school plan.


Includes bibliographical references.


v, 105 pages




Northern Illinois University

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