There is an issue that has been raging in education for as long as I can remember. This includes the time when I was in school because my parents would debate this at the dinner table when we (my sister and I) were growing up. The debate comes down to whether it is better to have classes with heterogenous grouping or homogenous grouping. It has been called many things in the past.
When I was growing up, the idea was called "tracking." Essentially, you had three levels of classes through the end of high school: remedial, regular, and advanced (or honors). The idea behind tracking was that if you put people of the same ability group together then you could get more growth in each group. Secondary to that (and what they do not tell you) is that if you keep the slower kids away from the smarter kids then the smarter kids will achieve more and get in less trouble.
The undercurrent behind all of this thought is the idea of sequestering the slower students, because they also tend to be the trouble makers. Therefore, they get in all the trouble they always do without it spilling over into the rest of the campus. As you can probably already tell, I have my own opinions on the subject. This is because I have traditionally gotten the short end of the stick in my career, so I immediately feel empathetic towards those teachers that get those lower classes.
The alternative to ability grouping is heterogenous grouping. The advantages are two-fold. First, students are exposed to a variety of different kinds of students. One of the ways teachers like to help students learn is to have students work together and tutor each other. The downside is that all of the discipline problems are interspersed and teachers have to work very hard to insure that quicker students remain challenged while the slower students are allowed to keep up.
The school where I work at has ability grouping, but it's done in a different way than most schools. It has its advantages and disadvantages. I think it's pretty easy to figure out where I stand, but I want to open this up to the congregation. Most of you have kids that are either in school or have gone through school. Would you have preferred ability grouping or do you think putting them all together would have been better for them? I will field questions about how it works, but I want your opinions to rule the day.