What One Hundred Years of Research Says About the Effects of Ability Grouping and Acceleration on K–12 Students’ Academic Achievement: Findings of Two Second-Order Meta-Analyses

Saiying Steenbergen-Hu, Matthew C. Makel, Paula Olszewski-Kubilius

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

99 Scopus citations

Abstract

Two second-order meta-analyses synthesized approximately 100 years of research on the effects of ability grouping and acceleration on K–12 students’ academic achievement. Outcomes of 13 ability grouping meta-analyses showed that students benefited from within-class grouping (0.19 ≤ g ≤ 0.30), cross-grade subject grouping (g = 0.26), and special grouping for the gifted (g = 0.37), but did not benefit from between-class grouping (0.04 ≤ g ≤0.06); the effects did not vary for high-, medium-, and low-ability students. Three acceleration meta-analyses showed that accelerated students significantly outperformed their nonaccelerated same-age peers (g = 0.70) but did not differ significantly from nonaccelerated older peers (g = 0.09). Three other meta-analyses that aggregated outcomes across specific forms of acceleration found that acceleration appeared to have a positive, moderate, and statistically significant impact on students’ academic achievement (g = 0.42).

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)849-899
Number of pages51
JournalReview of Educational Research
Volume86
Issue number4
DOIs
StatePublished - 2016

Keywords

  • ability grouping
  • acceleration
  • effect size
  • meta-analysis
  • second-order meta-analysis

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Education

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