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ERIC Number: EJ885907
Record Type: Journal
Publication Date: 2010
Pages: 10
Abstractor: ERIC
Reference Count: 16
ISSN: ISSN-0045-0685
Streaming for Mathematics in Victorian Secondary Schools
Forgasz, Helen
Australian Mathematics Teacher, v66 n1 p31-40 2010
Streaming (or ability grouping) for mathematics learning is a contentious issue. It can also be considered an issue of equity or social justice as some students may be adversely affected by the practice. Currently, the Victorian Department of Education and Early Childhood Development (DEECD) does not appear to have clear guidelines on streaming. However, in its documentation about "gifted" students, it is claimed that differentiating the curriculum should be part of a school's curricular strategy, that all students should have the opportunity to reach their full potential, but that the regular classroom should be the venue to provide appropriate challenge for the majority. The suggested school options to cater for the gifted are consistent with the recommendations of the Senate inquiry. Yet, those seeking support for a variety of forms of streaming in mathematics may selectively seize upon some of the statements made and research findings cited in the DEECD documentation, despite the clear emphasis being on provisions for the gifted. In the initial advice about the Australian national mathematics curriculum currently being developed, there is a strongly worded statement, consistent with social justice principles, against the temptation to address the wide-range of mathematics achievement levels that might be found at particular year levels by differentiating opportunities. It was argued that there should be no barriers to progression in mathematics and that "students should have the opportunity to choose any mathematics study at the start of Year 10, and should not have their options restricted by their own previous choices or their school's structuring of subject offerings." The onus was placed on systems and schools to ensure that the appropriate measures were in place to ensure that students' mathematics opportunities were not constrained. Implicitly, these statements appear in opposition to streaming, suggesting that streaming has the potential to limit students' choices of mathematics options at Year 10 and beyond. In having to meet this goal, will Victorian schools be challenged to modify their current grouping practices? Anecdotal evidence suggests that streaming for mathematics has become more prevalent than in the past; the severe shortage of qualified mathematics teachers may be a contributing factor to this situation. The present study aims to explore the extent to which streaming is currently used for mathematics in Victorian post-primary schools. With respect to the social justice concern of equitable opportunity for all students, teachers' views on the streaming/non-streaming policies and practices in their schools are also examined. (Contains 2 tables and 1 figure.)
Australian Association of Mathematics Teachers (AAMT). GPO Box 1729, Adelaide 5001, South Australia. Tel: +61-8-8363-0288; Fax: +61-8-8362-9288; e-mail:; Web site:
Publication Type: Journal Articles; Reports - Research
Education Level: Secondary Education
Audience: N/A
Language: English
Sponsor: N/A
Authoring Institution: N/A
Identifiers - Location: Australia