Total School Clustering

Total School Cluster Grouping and Differentiation at Robbinsdale Spanish Immersion School

For the past four years, Robbinsdale Spanish Immersion School (RSIS) has used the Total School Cluster Grouping Model (based on the research of Marcia Gentry & Rebecca L. Mann) to assign students to classrooms. This is a similar, yet more refined classroom assignment process to what is used in other schools. We believe that Total School Clustering provides clear advantages for all students at RSIS.

What is Total School Cluster Grouping?

In order to best meet the learning needs of all students, teachers are most successful when they can effectively differentiate instruction. Differentiation centers on providing quality education to students based on their various educational needs, which include their strengths, weaknesses, readiness, skill levels, interests, and learning preferences (Robert & Inman, 2007; Tomlinson, 1999). The Total School Cluster Grouping Model takes into account the achievement levels of all students in a classroom yearly in order to reduce the range of achievement levels in each classroom. This helps teachers to better differentiate curriculum and instruction for all students and thus increase student achievement (i.e. instead of having 5 achievement levels, a class will have only 3 achievement levels).

Benefits of Total School Cluster Grouping

  • Research shows that cluster grouping improves student achievement among students from all achievement levels.

  • This model allows students with similar academic needs to work together during part of every day.

  • Clustering provides teachers with a structure for adjusting the curriculum and instruction to the achievement and skill level of the child.

  • This tool allows teachers to serve all students effectively and differentiate instruction to meet the needs of all students.

(Gentry & Mann, 2008)

Total School Clustering Grouping is not the same as “tracking”

  • In tracking, students are grouped into classrooms with others of comparable ability throughout their school years. Curriculum is based on the ability of the average students in the class.

  • When clustered, all classes have a range of abilities.Teachers modify or extend grade-level standards according to the students’ needs and abilities (Winebrenner & Brulles, 2008).

How placement decisions are made for students at RSIS

Total School Cluster Grouping and Differentiation is a process that takes 3-5 years to fully implement. In the first year at RSIS, we have used the following process for assigning students to classrooms.This process is based on recommendations of Gentry & Mann. Click here to read about the Identification Process for Cluster Grouping.

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