Using Cluster Grouping with Gifted Students

Instructor: Della McGuire

Della has been teaching secondary and adult education for over 20 years. She holds a BS in Sociology, MEd in Reading, and is ABD on the MComm in Storytelling.

In this lesson, we will discuss a gifted education strategy that is growing in popularity: inclusive classrooms with cluster grouping, in which all gifted students in a grade level are placed in the same class with a trained teacher who differentiates instruction.

Sara's Suggestion

Sara is part of the work group that assigns teachers each year. Most of the time, students are assigned to teachers to evenly distribute students in a class according to ability. The students in each class approximate the bell curve with a few struggling students, a few high achievers and the majority of students in each class having more or less average grades and performance. Sara's summer in-service training was about providing quality education for the gifted based on research-driven best practices. One of the ideas she learned there was cluster grouping students to help gifted students.

A standard distribution of student scores resembles a bell curve. Cluster grouping divides the class differently.
image of a bell curve

Cluster Grouping

Cluster grouping means to group gifted students together in clusters, usually within the same classroom. These groupings should be flexible rather than the rigid tracking that tends to label students for life as high or low performers. Clustering is not the same as tracking because cluster groups are flexible and should evolve based on the needs of the student or a particular project.

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