LAW AND EDUCATIONAL POLICY: DETERMINANTS, PRACTICES, AND CONSEQUENCES OF STUDENT GROUPING

LESLIE BELL, Fordham University

Abstract

Grouping of students by public schools, whether based on intellectual performance or potential, draws attention to the interaction between legal decisions and educational policy and practice. Courts have become crucial focal points for change in educational policy and in legal actions based on the concepts of equality of educational opportunity.^ School administrators are part of this litigious context. Very real ideological conflicts of interest are brought within the school and focused on the management of student grouping. This study focused on the analysis and evaluation of what causes the formulation of varying practices in the assignment of children to reading groups in elementary school. Since school administrators serve as linkages between instruction and policy-making levels of the school system, this study also sought to examine the extent to which they had a greater awareness or experience with existent reading grouping practices and whether such school actions were influenced by public policies.^ This study was an exploratory, descriptive, and comparative analysis of grouping policies and practices within school districts. Based on a random sample of representative school districts in New York State, a survey addressed to 115 superintendents, 115 principals, and 150 reading coordinators (three separate questionnaires) to determine the range of grouping policies and practices was conducted as the first phase of the study. Responses were received from 47 superintendents (40.9%), 68 principals (59.1%), and 46 reading coordinators (30.7%). Based on a random sample of representative school districts in New York State, another survey addressed to 150 principals to determine the range of grouping policies and practices was conducted as the second phase of the study. Responses were received from 43 principals (28.7%).^ The methodology of the study was derived in part from the policy research model of Haller and Strike. The methodology included documentary analysis to establish the public policy context: the judicial and legislative antecedents placing within legal purview student differentiation and grouping within the school. The following were the major findings of the study: (1) According to the administrators and reading coordinators, there was a lack of district level grouping policies. It was not an object of conscious, system-wide decisions. (2) Grouping decisions were commonly made in the earliest elementary grades (kindergarten and first grade). . . . (Author's abstract exceeds stipulated maximum length. Discontinued here with permission of author.) UMI ^

Subject Area

Educational administration

Recommended Citation

BELL, LESLIE, "LAW AND EDUCATIONAL POLICY: DETERMINANTS, PRACTICES, AND CONSEQUENCES OF STUDENT GROUPING" (1983). ETD Collection for Fordham University. AAI8326161.
https://fordham.bepress.com/dissertations/AAI8326161

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