Date of Award:


Document Type:


Degree Name:

Master of Science (MS)



Department name when degree awarded

Educational Administration

Committee Chair(s)

Walter Borg


Walter Borg


Thomas Taylor


Malcom Allred


Education in the United States attempts to present maximum opportunities for learning in a democratic atmosphere. Many great educators have sought means to accomplish this end. Today, because of the stimulating force of other nations, even greater pressure is being brought to bear to achieve these goals. The plan of grouping pupils according to their abilities has been presented as one way to facilitate learning.

Ability grouping is the assigning of pupils who are essentially alike to special grade levels and to parallel sections of the same grade. Although it may be thought that ability grouping is a new procedure, as early as 1920 the Detroit schools divided ten thousand students entering the first grade into three groups, on the basis of group intelligence tests. A letter classification of X, Y, or Z was given to each group. Group X was composed of the highest 20 per cent of the new enrollment; Group Y, of the middle 60 per cent; and Group Z, of the lower 20 per cent of the pupils.

From the first recorded use of ability grouping, different methods of grouping have been used, with varying degrees of success. In the United States, during 1947-48, over half of the 1,598 city school systems were using ability grouping in some form or another in at least one of their schools. The percentage of cities using ability grouping ranged from 72 per cent in cities of more than 100,000 population, to 44 per cent in cities of 2,500 to 5,000 population.

Typical of problems arising in ability grouping are: the relationship of ability grouping to achievement, the relationship of ability grouping to attitudes, the relationship of ability grouping to emotions, and the relationship of ability grouping to social acceptance.

The purpose of this thesis is an evaluation of problems arising in ability grouping in relation to social acceptance, or sociometrics.