Date of Award


Degree Type


Degree Name

Master of Education (MEd)


School of Teacher Education and Leadership

Committee Chair(s)

Cindy D. Jones


Cindy D. Jones


Sarah K. Clark


Barbara DeBoer


Small group instruction is an important part of elementary literacy programs. Methods for forming small groups have often centered on ability level. However, grouping students by ability can have negative effects on students most at risk for failure. It was proposed that a method for forming small groups based on skill or strategy needs rather than ability level may have positive effects on student learning. During this study reading growth data in one first grade teacher’s class was compared from 2008-09 and 2009-10 school years in which leveled ability groups was used to the 2010-11 school year when the experimental needs-based groups were implemented. The expected outcome was that students who were grouped by need would experience more consistent growth throughout the first two testing periods than students grouped by ability and that they would show flexible use of reading skills and strategies. Student data shows positive effects for some students at risk of failure but no statistically significant effect on student growth. Teacher notes provide some insights into possible effects on student use of strategies.


This work made publicly available electronically on November 21, 2011.

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