Harvard Educational Review
  1. Winter 1996 Issue »

    Sustained Inquiry in Education

    Lessons from Skill Grouping and Class Size

    By Frederick Mosteller, Richard J. Light and Jason A. Sachs
    In this article, Frederick Mosteller, Richard J. Light and Jason A. Sachs explore the nature of the empirical evidence that can inform school leaders' key decisions about how to organize students within schools: Should students be placed in heterogeneous classes or tracked classes? What is the impact of class size on student learning? How does it vary? Since tracking (or skill grouping, as the authors prefer to call it) is widely used in U.S. schools, the authors expected to find a wealth of evidence to support the efficacy of the practice. Surprisingly, they found only a handful of well-designed studies exploring the academic benefits of tracking, and of these, the results were equivocal. With regard to class size, the authors describe the Tennessee class size study, using it to illustrate that large, long-term, randomized controlled field trials can be carried out successfully in education. The Tennessee study demonstrates convincingly that student achievement continues when the students move to regular-size classes in the fourth grade and beyond. The authors suggest in conclusion that education would benefit from a commitment to sustained inquiry through well-designed, randomized controlled field trials of education innovations. Such sustained inquiry could provide a source of solid evidence on which educators could base their decisions about how to organize and support student learning in classes and schools.

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    Winter 1996 Issue


    The Colonizer/Colonized Chicana Ethnographer
    Identity, Marginalization, and Co-optation in the Field
    By Sofia Villenas
    "To Take Them at Their Word"
    Language Data in the Study of Teachers' Knowledge
    By Donald Freeman
    Inclusion, School Restructuring, and the Remaking of American Society
    By Dorothy Kerzner Lipsky and Alan Gartner
    Sustained Inquiry in Education
    Lessons from Skill Grouping and Class Size
    By Frederick Mosteller, Richard J. Light and Jason A. Sachs

    Book Notes

    Saving Our Sons
    By Marita Golden

    This Is How We Live and Tapori

    Wasting America's Future: The Children's Defense Fund Report on the Cost of Child Poverty
    By Arloc Sherman; Introduction by Marian Wright Edelman; Foreword by Robert M. Solow

    Blacked Out
    By Signithia Fordham

    Works about John Dewey 1886–1995
    Edited by Barbara Levine

    By Matthew Lipman

    Diversity in Higher Education
    By Caryn McTighe Musil, with Mildred Garcia, Yolanda Moses, and Daryl G. Smith

    Handbook of Qualitative Research
    Edited by Norman K. Denzin and Yvonna S. Lincoln.

    Commissions, Reports, Reforms, and Educational Policy
    Edited by Rick Ginsberg and David N. Plank.

    The Multilevel Design
    By Harry J. M. Huttner and Pieter van den Eeden.

    Search and Seizure in the Public Schools (Second Edition)
    By Lawrence F. Rossow and Jacqueline A. Stefkovich

    Call 1-800-513-0763 to order this issue.