Texan wrote:When I was a kid, we divided the kids by ability for core classes so that they could learn at a pace as fast as they could while not neglecting the kids who were slower.

my kids school still does that. At my sons school they have for example 4 yr three classes. If this week they are doing multiplication for maths, the four classes all do the same work for a week to determine a base line, then next week for multiplication they get split different classes again depending on their abilities. The ones who do well go to an 'advanced' class', those struggling go to another class where the teacher can concentrate on them, the two classes in the middle work to increase their abilities to the advanced levels. The classes can change weekly depending on what concept they are teaching. A kid who struggles to understand the concept of multiplication, might quickly grasp the concept of subtraction. So they might be in the struggling class one week, and the advanced class the next week.

In the interests of not creating any adverse stigma, the kids usually are unaware of what class they are in (or at least they're not supposed to be aware, but the kids are clever enough to work it out by that age). They are only told who their teacher for the week will be for a particular concept they are studying. A teacher taking the advanced class this week might teach the struggling class next week (their usual class teacher still has them for most of the day. This system only kicks in for English and Maths portion of their day).

When they review (in this example) 'multiplication' in a few months time, they all do the same 'base line' testing, and any kid still struggling gets additional help with one on one tutoring with a teachers aide.

It works great.