Below is an attempt to pull together sources of research on pupil attainment grouping. I will endeavour to add more to this as and when time allows, and to include critical analysis of each source. This is a work in progress. If you see something missing, let me know below.
Unfortunately many of these are academic journal articles which require a licence to access, however, the abstracts are on line.
Bibliography on Ability Grouping
Ansalone, George (2003). Poverty, tracking, and the social construction of failure: International perspectives on tracking, Journal of Children and Poverty, 9:1, 3-20, DOI:10.1080/1079612022000052698. (Open Access). Review
Archer, Louise; Francis, Becky; Miller, Sarah; Taylor, Becky; Tereshchenko, Anna; Mazenod, Anna; Peppeer, David and Travers, Mary-Claire (2018). The symbolic violence of setting: a Bourdieusian analysis of mixed methods data on secondary students’ views about setting. British Educational Research Journal, 44(1), 119-140.
* Becker, Michael; Neumann, MMarko; Tetzner, Julia; Bose, Susanne; Knoppick, Henrike; Maaz, Kai, Baumert, Jurgen ands Lehmann, Rainer (2014) Is early ability grouping good for high-achieving students’ psychosocial development? Effects of the transition into academically selective schools, Journal of Educational Psychology, 106(2), 555-568.
Boaler, Jo (1996). Setting, Social Class and the Survival of the Quickest. Paper presented at the BERA Conference, Lancaster University.
Boaler, Jo (1997). Setting, Social Class and the Survival of the Quickest. British Educational Research Journal, 23(5), 575 – 595.
Boaler, Jo (1998). Students’ Experiences of Ability Grouping – Disaffection, Polarisation and the Construction of Failure. In Peter Gates (Ed.), Mathematics Education and Society, Proceeding of the First International Conference (MEAS1) – Supplement (pp. 8 – 23). Nottingham: CSME.
Boaler, Jo (2004). Setting, social class and the survival of the quickest. In Barbara Allen & Sue Johnston-Wilder (Eds.), Mathematics Education: exploring the culture of learning. London: RoutledgeFalmer.
Boaler, Jo (2005). The ‘Psychological Prisons’ from which They Never Escaped: the role of ability grouping in reproducing social class inequalities. FORUM, 47(2 & 3), 135-143.
Boaler, J.o (2007). Promoting ‘relational equity’ and high mathematics achievement through an innovative mixed-ability approach. British Educational Research Journal, 34(2), 167 – 194. doi:10.1080/01411920701532145 (Open Access)
Boaler, Jo (2013). Ability and Mathematics: the mindset revolution that is reshaping education. FORUM, 55(1), 143-152.
Boaler, Jo and Wiliam, Dylan (2001) ‘We’ve still got to learn’. Students’ perspectives on ability grouping and mathematical achievement. In Gates, Peter (ed) Issues in Mathematics Teaching. London: RoutledgeFalmer, pp. 77-92.
Boaler, Jo; Wiliam, Dylan & Brown, Margaret (1998, Second Edition 1999). Students’ Experiences of Ability Grouping – Disaffection, Polarisation and the Construction of Failure. In P. Gates & T. Cotton (Eds.), Mathematics Education and Society, Proceeding of the First International Conference (MEAS1) (pp. 367-382). Nottingham: CSME.
Boaler, Jo; Wiliam, Dylan & Brown, Margaret (2000). Students’ Experiences of Ability Grouping – Disaffection, Polarisation and the Construction of Failure. British Educational Research Journal, 26(5), 631-648.
Cahan, S., Linchevski, L., Ygra, N., & Danziger, l. (1996). The cumulative effect of ability grouping on mathematical achievement: a longitudinal perspective. Studies in Educational Evaluation, 22(1), 29-40. Review.
Cheung, Chau-Kiu and Rudowicz, Elizabeth (2003). Academic Outcomes of Ability Grouping Among Junior High School Students in Hong Kong, The Journal of Educational Research, 96:4, 241-254, DOI: 10.1080/00220670309598813. (Open Access)
Connolly, Paul; Taylor, Becky; Francis Becky; Archer, Louise; Hodgen, Jeremy; Mazenod, Anna & Tereshchenko, Antonina (2019). The misallocation of students to academic sets in maths: A study of secondary schools in England. British Educational Research Journal, 45(4), 873–897. doi:10.1002/berj.3530 (Open Access)
Davidson, Julie (2001). Images of setting in the primary classroom. Paper presented at the European Conference on Educational Research, 5-8 September 2001, Lille. http://www.leeds.ac.uk/educol/documents/00001849.htm
Dixon, A., Drummond, M. J., Hart, S., & Mcintyre, D. (2002). Developing Teaching Free from Ability Labelling: back where we started? FORUM, Volume 44, No. 1, 2002, 44(1), 7-12.
Dowker, A. (2005). Early Identification and Intervention for Students With Mathematics Difficulties. Journal of Learning Disabilities, 38. doi:10.1177/00222194050380040801.
*Duckworth, K., Akerman, R., Gutman, L. M., & Vorhaus, J. (2009) Influences and leverages on low levels of attainment: A review of literature and policy initiatives. Research Report 31. London, England: Centre for Research on the Wider Benefits of Learning, Institute of Education, University of London.
Duflo, Esther; Dupas, Pascaline and Kremer, Michael (2011). Peer Effects, Teacher Incentives, and the Impact of Tracking: Evidence from a Randomized Evaluation in Kenya. American Economic Review, 101(5), 1739-1774. doi: 10.1257/aer.101.5.1739
Dunne, M., Humphreys, S., Dyson, A., Sebba, J., Gallannaugh, F., & Muijs, D. (2011). The teaching and learning of pupils in low-attainment sets. The Curriculum Journal, 22(4), 485-513. doi:10.1080/09585176.2011.627206
EEF (2020) Setting and Streaming. (Open Access)
Charmillot, Georges (2013). School tracking and educational inequality: a comparison of 12 education systems in Switzerland. Comparative Education, 42(2), 181-205. doi:DOI: 10.1080/03050068.2012.706032. (Open Access)
Francis, Becky; Taylor, Becky; Hodgen, Jeremy; Tereshchenko, Anna and Archer, Louise (2018). Dos and don’ts of attainment grouping. London: UCL Institute of Education. (Open Access)
Francis, Becky; Archer, Louise; Hodgen, Jeremy; Pepper, David; Taylor, Becky and Travers, Mary-Claire (2016). Exploring the relative lack of impact of research on ‘ability grouping’ in England: A discourse analytic account. Cambridge Journal of Education, 47(1), 1–17. doi:10.1080/0305764X.2015.1093095
Francis, Becky; Connolly, Paul: Archer, Louise; Hodgen, Jeremy; Mazenod, Anna; Pepper, David; Sloand, Seaneen; Taylor, Becky; Tereshchenko, Antonina; Traversa, Mary-Claire(2017). Attainment Grouping as self-fulfilling prophesy? A mixed methods exploration of self confidence and set level among Year 7 students. International Journal of Educational Research, 86, 96-108.
Francis, Becky; Taylor, Becky & Tereshchenko, Anna (2020). Reassessing ‘Ability’ Grouping. Improving Practice for Equity and Attrainment. London: Routledge.
Francome, Tom and Hewitt, Dave (2018). “My math lessons are all about learning from your mistakes”: how mixed-attainment mathematics grouping affects the way students experience mathematics. Educational Review. doi:DOI: 10.1080/00131911.2018.1513908
Gamoran, Adam (1992). Synthesis of Research: Is Ability Grouping Equitable? Educational Leadership, 50(2), 11-17.
Gamoran, Adam (2002). Standards, Inequality & Ability Grouping in Schools. CES Briefing 22. Retrieved from Edinburgh:
Gamoran, Adam (2009). Tracking and Inequality: New Directions for Research and Practice. WCER Working Paper No. 2009-6. Wisconsin Center for Education Research.
George, Paul; Jenkins, Terry and Morgan, Joyce (1997). Detracking Troup County: Providing an Exemplary Curriculum for All Students. Equity & Excellence in Education, 30(2), 60-67.
Gregory, R. (1984). Streaming, Setting and Mixed Ability Grouping in Primary and Secondary Schools: some research findings. Educational Studies, 10(3), 209-226. doi:10.1080/0305569840100302
Hallam, Susan and Ireson, Judith (2005). Secondary school teachers’ pedagogic practices when teaching mixed and structured ability classes. Research Papers in Education, 20(1), 3-24.
Hallam, Susan and Ireson, Judith (2006). Secondary school pupils’ preferences for different types of structured grouping practices. British Educational Research Journal, 32( 4), 583-599.
Hallam, Susan; Ireson, Judith and Davies, Jane (2004). Primary pupils’ experiences of different types of grouping in school. British Educational Research Journal, 30(4), 516 – 533.
Hallam, Susan; Ireson, Judith; Lister, Veronica and Chaudhury, Indrani (Ability grouping practices in the primary school: A survey. Educational Studies, 1(1), 69-83.
Hallam, Susan and Parsons, Samantha (2013). Prevalence of streaming in UK primary schools: evidence from the Millennium Cohort Study. British Educational Research Journal, 39( 3), 514–544.
Hallam, Susan and Parsons, Samantha (2013). The incidence and make up of ability grouped sets in the UK primary school. Research Papers in Education, 28(4), 393-420. doi:10.1080/02671522.2012.729079. (Open Access).
Hanushek, Eric and Woessmann, Ludger (2005). Does Educational Tracking Affect Performance And Inequality? Differences-in-Differences Evidence Across Countries. The Economic Journal, 116(C63–C76).
Harlen, Wynne and Malcolm, Heather (Eds.) (1999). Setting and Streaming. A Research Review. Edinburgh: Scottish Council for Research in Education.
Henry, Leah (2015) The Effects Of Ability Grouping On The Learning Of Children From Low Income Families. The STeP Journal – Student Teacher Perspectives, 2(3), 70-87.
Hoffer, Thomas (1992). Middle School Ability Grouping and Student Achievement in Science and Mathematics. Educational Evaluation And Policy Analysis, 14(3), 205-227 doi:10.3102/01623737014003205.
Holmes, Thomas and Ahr, Thomas (1994). Effects of Ability Grouping on Academic Achievement and Self-Concept of African-American and White Students. The Clearing House: A Journal of Educational Strategies, Issues and Ideas, 67(5), 294-297.
*Hornby, Gary and Witt, Chrystal (2014) Ability grouping in New Zealand high schools: Are practices evidence-based?, Preventing School Failure, 58(2), 90-95.
*Hornby, Gary; Witt, Chrystal and Mitchel, David (2011) Policies and practices of ability grouping in New Zealand intermediate schools, Support for Learning, 26(3), 92-96.
Ireson, Judith and Hallam, Susan (1999). Raising Standards: is ability grouping the answer? Oxford Review of Education, 25(3), 343-358.
Ireson, Judith (2000). Innovative Grouping Practices in Secondary Schools. Research Report 166. London: DFEE.
Ireson, Judith and Hallam, Susan (2001). Ability Grouping in Education. London: Paul Chapman Publishing.
Ireson, Judith; Hallam, Susan and Hurley, Clare (2005). What are the effects of ability grouping on GCSE attainment? British Educational Research Journal, 31(4), 443-458.
Ireson, Judith; Hallam, Susam; Mortimore, Peter; Hack, Sarah; Clark, Helen & Plewis, Ian (1999). Ability grouping in the secondary school: the effects on academic achievement and pupils’ self-esteem. Paper presented at the British Educational Research Association Annual Conference, University of Sussex. http://www.leeds.ac.uk/educol/documents/00001359.htm
Jorgensen, Robyn (2016) Stratification through ability grouping in school mathematics: Challenging the myth of ability. In J.G. Ladwig & J. Albright (Eds.) On the within school stratification of social inequities of learning and achievement: The current state of knowledge and affairs in Australian and New Zealand Schools. Rotterdam: Sense.
Jorgensen, R., & Lowrie, T. What Have We Achieved in 50 Years of Equity in School Mathematics?
Kerckhoff, Alan (1986). Effects of Ability Grouping in British Secondary Schools. American Sociological Review. 51(6), 842-858. http://www.jstor.org/stable/2095371.
Kulik, James (1992). An Analysis of the Research on Ability Grouping: Historical and Contemporary Perspectives. Connecticut: The National Research Center On The Gifted And Talented.
Kulik, Chen-Lin and Kulik, James (1982). Effects of Ability Grouping on Secondary School Students: A Meta-Analysis of Evaluation Findings. American Educational Research Journal, 19(3), 415-428.
Kulik, James and Kulik, Chen-Lin (1987). Effects of Ability Grouping on Student Achievement. Equity & Excellence in Education, 23(1-2), 22-30. doi:10.1080/1066568870230105
Kutnick, Peter; Hodgkinson, Steve; Sebba, Judy; Humphreys, Sarah; Galton, Maurice; Steward, Susan; Blatchford, Peter and Baines, Ed (2006a). Pupil Grouping Strategies and Practices At Key Stage 2 And 3: Case Studies Of 24 Schools In England. Brief No: Research Brief 796. London: Department for Education. (Open Access)
Kutnick, Peter; Hodgkinson, Steve; Sebba, Judy; Humphreys, Sarah; Galton, Maurice; Steward, Susan; Blatchford, Peter and Baines, Ed (2006b). Pupil Grouping Strategies and Practices at Key Stage 2 and 3: Case Studies of 24 Schools in England; Research Report 796. London: Department for Education.
Kutnick, Peter; Sebba, Judy; Blatchford, Peter; Galton, Maurice and Thorp, Jo (2005). The Effects of Pupil Grouping: Literature Review. Research Report RR688. London: Department for Education and Skills. (Open Access)
Li, Fan; Loyalka, Prashant; Yi, Hongmei; Shi, Yaojiang; Johnson, Natalie and Rozelle, Scott (2018). Ability tracking and social trust in China’s rural secondary school system. School Effectiveness and School Improvement. 29(4), 545-572. (Open Access)
Linchevski, Liora and Kutscher, Bilha (1998). Tell Me with Whom You’re Learning, and I’ll Tell You How Much You’ve Learned. Journal for Research in Mathematics Education, 29(5), 533-554.
Marks, Rachel (2013).“The Blue Table Means you Don’t Have a Clue”: The Persistence of Fixed-Ability Thinking and Practices in Primary Mathematics in English Schools. FORUM, 55(1), 29-42.
Marks, Rachel (2014). Educational triage and ability-grouping in primary mathematics: a case-study of the impacts on low-attaining pupils. Research in Mathematics Education, 16(1), 38-53. doi:10.1080/14794802.2013.874095.
Mazenod, Anna; Francis, Becky; Archer, Louise; Hodgen, Jeremy; Taylor, Becky; Tereshchenko, Anna and Pepper, David (2018). Nurturing learning or encouraging dependency? Teacher constructions of students in lower attainment groups in English secondary schools. Cambridge Journal of Education. doi:10.1080/0305764X.2018.1441372. (Open Access).
McGillicuddy, Deidre and Devine, Dympna (2018). “Turned off” or “ready to fly”. Ability grouping as an act of symbolic violence in primary school. Teaching and Teacher Education, 70(1), 88-99.
*McGillicuddy, Deidre and Devine, Dympna (2020). ‘You feel ashamed that you are not in the higher group’—Children’s psychosocial response to ability grouping in primary school. British Educational Research Journal, 46(3), 553-573.
Mills, Rebecca and Irvin, Judith (1998). What Research Says: Tracking Students: A “Punctuated Event” for Young Adolescents. Middle School Journal, 29(5), 71-73. doi:10.1080/00940771.1998.11495924.
Moller, Stephanie and Stearns, Elizabeth (2012). Tracking Success: High School Curricula and Labor Market Outcomes by Race and Gender. Urban Education, 47(6), 1025– 1054. doi:10.1177/0042085912454440.
Mosteller, Frederick; Light, Richard and Sachs, Jason (1996). Sustained Inquiry in Education: Lessons from Skill Grouping and Class Size. Harvard Educational Review, 66(4), 797-843.
Muijs, Daniel and Dunne, Mairead (2010). Setting by ability – or is it? A quantitative study of determinants of set placement in English secondary schools. Educational Research, 52(4), 391-407. doi:10.1080/00131881.2010.524750
Nolan, Fred (1998). Ability Grouping Plus Heterogeneous Grouping: Win-Win Schedules. Middle School Journal 29:5, 14-19. 10.1080/00940771.1998.11495914 (Open Access).
OECD. (2013). Selecting and Grouping Student. In What Makes Schools Successful? Resources, Policies and Practices – Volume IV. Paris: OECD, pp 71-90.
OECD (2015). Selecting and grouping Students, in PISA 2015 Results (Volume II). Paris OECD. Paris: OECD, pp. 155-181
Ofsted. (1998). Setting in Primary Schools. London: OFSTED.
Ollerton, Mike (1998). Ministerial Muddling Over Mixed-Ability. Mathematics Teaching, 165, 5-7.
Ollerton, Mike (2009). Inclusive Mathematics Classrooms. Mathematics Teaching, 216, 5-7.
Parsons, Samantha and Hallam, Sue (2014). The impact of streaming on attainment at age seven: evidence from the Millennium Cohort Study. Oxford Review of Education, 40(5), 567-589. doi:10.1080/03054985.2014.959911
Povey, Hilary and Jackson, Colin (2017). ”No, it just didn’t work”: A teacher’s reflections on all-attainment teaching. CERME 10, Feb 2017, Dublin, Ireland. ffhal-01937335f
Rui, Ning (2009). Four decades of research on the effects of detracking reform: where do we stand? – a systematic review of the evidence. Journal of Evidence Based Medicine, 2(3), 164-183.
Ruthven, Kenneth (1987). Ability Stereotyping In Mathematics. Educational Studies in Mathematics, 18, 243-253.
Secada, Walter (1989). Agenda Setting, Enlightened Self-Interest and Equity in Mathematics Education. Peabody Journal of Education, 66(1), 22 – 56.
Shaw, Laura (2015). ‘Marks. Set. Go?’: Pupils’ perspectives on ability groupings in relation to academic self-concept and self-efficacy. Journal of Trainee Teacher Education Research., University of Cambridge.
Slavin, Robert (1987). Ability Grouping and Student Achievement in Elementary Schools: A Best-Evidence Synthesis. Review of Educational Research, 578, 293-336. doi:10.3102/00346543057003293.
Slavin, Robert (1990). Achievement Effects of Ability Grouping in Secondary Schools: A Best-Evidence Synthesis. Review of Educational Research, 60(3), 471-499. doi:https://doi.org/10.3102/00346543060003471. (Open Access)
Steenbergen-Hu, Saiying Makel, Matthew and Olszewski-Kubilius, Paula (2016). 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. Review of Educational Research, 86(4), 849-899. doi:10.3102/0034654316675417
Sukhnandan, Laura (1999). Sorting, Sifting and Setting. Does grouping pupils according to ability affect attainment? NFER News, Spring 1999, 6 – 7.
Sukhnandan, Laura & Lee, Barbara (1998). Streaming, Setting and Grouping by Ability. Slough: NFER.
Taylor, Becky; Francis, Becky; Archer, Louise; Hodgen, Jeremy; Pepper, David; Tereshchenko, Anna and Travers, Mary-Claire (2017). Factors deterring schools from mixed attainment teaching practice. Pedagogy, Culture & Society, 25(3), 327-345. doi:10.1080/14681366.2016.1256908. (Open Access).
Taylor, Becky; Francis, Becky; Craig, Nicole; Archer, Louise; Hodgen, Jeremy; Mazenod, Anna; Tereshchenko, Antonina and Pepper, David (2019). Why is it difficult for schools to establish equitable practices in allocating students to attainment ‘sets’? British Journal of Educational Studies, 67(1), 5-24. doi:10.1080/00071005.2018.1424317
Tresidder, Gwen and Watson, Anne (2013). The Possibilities and Difficulties of Teaching Secondary Mathematics in All-attainment Groups. FORUM, 55(1), 73-84.
Venkatakrishnan, Hamsa and Wiliam, Dylan (2000) Tracking and mixed-ability grouping in secondary school mathematics classrooms: a case study. Paper presented at British Educational Research Association 26th annual conference, September 2000, University of Cardiff, Cardiff, Wales. (Open Access).
*Vogl, Katharina and Preckel, Franzis ( 2014) Full-Time Ability Grouping of Gifted Students: Impacts on Social Self-Concept and School-Related Attitudes, Gifted Child Quarterly, 58(1) 51–68.
Whitburn, Julia (2001). Effective Classroom Organisation in Primary Schools: Mathematics. Oxford Review of Education, 27(3), 411-428. doi:10.1080/03054980125200.
Wiliam, Dylan& and Bartholomew, Hannah (2004). It’s not which school but which set you’re in that matters: the influence of ability grouping practices on student progress in mathematics. British Educational Research Journal, 30(2).
Wilkinson, Shaun and Penney, Dawn (2014). The effects of setting on classroom teaching and student learning in mainstream mathematics, English and science lessons: a critical review of the literature in England. Educational Review, 66(4), 411-427. doi:10.1080/00131911.2013.787971
Zevenbergen, Robyn (2003). Ability Grouping in Mathematics Classrooms: A Bourdieuian Analysis. For the Learning of Mathematics, 23(3), 5-10. Open Access.
Zevenbergen, Robyn (2005). The construction of a mathematical habitus: The implications of ability grouping in the middle years. Journal of Curriculum Studies, 37(5), 607-619.