Cluster Grouping is used in mixed-ability classrooms. GT students are ‘clustered’ together. This facilitates differentiated instruction enabling teachers to better meet the needs of ALL students.
Isn’t Cluster Grouping the same as tracking? ‘Tracking’ is an approach historically fraught with negative connotations. Students placed on a track remained there throughout their education K-12. Cluster Grouping is not ‘tracking’. It is flexible, addresses specific needs, and can be realigned when necessary. It avoids putting ALL students into permanent tracks while allowing all students to explore their personal academic potential.
Teachers using Cluster Grouping reported increased identification, awareness, and understanding of students’ needs. They felt instructional strategies were more effective. GT students are more at ease learning with intellectual peers and able to explore content more deeply. Inappropriate behaviors are curtailed. Cluster Grouping provides GT students with gifted education opportunities that are cost-effective for school districts experiencing budgetary constraints.
It’s essential that Cluster Teachers have specialized training in teaching GT students. They should know how to recognize and nurture GT, and allow them to demonstrate mastery. Cluster Teachers should be able to provide accelerated pacing, allow for independent study, and facilitate sophisticated research opportunities. (Winebrenner)
Won’t the presence of GT Cluster Groups inhibit the performance of other students? Over 30 years of research (Feldhusen ’89, Rogers ’93, Gentry ’99, Brulles ’05, Plucker ’10, Pierce ’11) says otherwise. GT Cluster Groups don’t inhibit other students. Size matters. Keeping groups to a manageable size has shown to improve achievement for all students (Winebrenner).
Schools need to be realistic about their access to and ability to provide necessary resources required to implement Cluster Grouping. Professional development in GT must be required for all teachers, admins, and staff involved in developing and instituting Cluster Grouping, AND be ongoing. Expectations and well-established norms must precede establishment of Cluster Grouping in a school district to ensure the success of students and the program. Successful Cluster Grouping involves embedded PD, advisors and mentors for teachers, expertise in advance scheduling, and parent and community involvement. A transcript of this chat can be found at Wakelet.
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About the author: Lisa Conrad is the Moderator of Global #gtchat Powered by TAGT and Social Media Manager of the Global #gtchat Community. She is a longtime advocate for gifted children and also blogs at Gifted Parenting Support. Lisa can be contacted at: firstname.lastname@example.org
The Cluster Grouping Handbook (pdf preview)
CTD Hosts Conference on Cluster Grouping ( October 2018)
Todd Talks – Cluster Grouping (YouTube 13:14)
Meta-analytic Findings on Grouping Programs (Abstract Only)
Graphic courtesy of Lisa Conrad.