"Splitting classes by ability" is a marketing ploy - and
a bad one at that, since anyone who knows anything at all about
education knows that heterogeneous classes work better than homogeneous
For one thing, to split classes by "ability" is meaningless
-- since the starting score you earn has less than nothing to do
with the final score you'll wind up at. To put someone with
a low starting score into a low-scoring class is to create a self-fulfilling
prophecy, holding that student back from their full potential.
For another, what do you do with someone who's really good
at one section, and not so good at another? Or really good at some
PARTS of one section, and not so good at other parts of the very
same section? It's ridiculous on the face of it, when you stop
to think about it.
But most important, splitting classes by score level cheats everyone
of the crucial opportunity to learn from one another, and from the
varying types of discourse going on between the instructor and the
different individual students.
Clearly, the lower scoring students will profit from seeing the
higher-scoring students, and realizing that they, too, can ultimately
do the same. What's not so clear, but just as important, is
that higher scoring students will benefit from hearing questions
asked that they would never have asked -- but that they can profit
from hearing the answers to.
Of course, to address everyone's needs properly does take a more
skilled, more experienced instructor. Hey, maybe that's why they..
By the way, that's not to say that different classes don't
have different centers of gravity, as it were. If you want to be
among some very high-scoring people, go where there are more of
them! We often suggest that, in order to ensure a critical mass
of very high scorers in their class, people of ANY starting score
who want to be in a class where there will be a greater number of
high-scoring students may wish to select the Harvard class location
over any other.