How to assign students into sections to raise learning

Research output: Contribution to conferencePapers


Grouping students with similar past achievement together (tracking) might affect their reading achievement. Multilevel analyses of 208,057 fourth grade students in 40 countries showed that clustering students in schools by past achievement was linked to higher reading achievement, consistent with the benefits of customized, targeted instruction. Meanwhile, students had higher reading achievement with greater differences (variances) among classmates' past achievement, reading attitudes, or family SES; these results are consistent with the view that greater student differences yield more help opportunities (higher achievers help lower achievers, so that both learn), and foster learning from their different resources, attitudes and behaviors. Also, a student had higher reading achievement when classmates had more resources (SES, home educational resources, reading attitude, past achievement), suggesting that classmates shared their resources and helped one another. Modeling of non-linear relations and achievement subsamples of students supported the above interpretations. Principals can use these results and a simpler version of this methodology to re-allocate students and resources into different course sections at little cost to improve students' reading achievement.
Original languageEnglish
Publication statusPublished - Mar 2017
EventThe Seventh International Conference on Learning Analytics & Knowledge (LAK’17) - Vancouver, Canada
Duration: 13 Mar 201717 Mar 2017


ConferenceThe Seventh International Conference on Learning Analytics & Knowledge (LAK’17)
Internet address


Chiu, M. M., Chow, B. W.-Y., & Joh, S. W. (2017, March). How to assign students into sections to raise learning. Paper presented at the 7th International Learning Analytics and Knowledge (LAK) Conference (LAK 17), Simon Fraser University, Vancouver, Canada.


  • Ability grouping
  • Classmates
  • Inequality
  • Socioeconomic status
  • International assessment
  • Non-EdUHK/HKIEd Affiliated Publication


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