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Mixed ability is a proposed new term to be used in place of the terms disabled, handicapped, abnormal, and crippled. Mixed ability refers to any person who has a different or mixed physical ability. It can also refer to anyone who has a different emotional or learning ability. Words like disabled, crippled, and handicapped have negative connotations throughout history. Mixed ability contemporizes the label placed on those who have a different or medically documented physical or mental abilities and attempts to relieve any social or conversational stigma.
The objective in changing the term is to eliminate stereotypes that exist currently in any society in regard to those with a mixed ability.
Mixed ability may also refer to a group in which children of varied abilities are taught together rather than being set apart in groups according to level of learning.
Educator Robert Pondiscio has argued that mixed-ability grouping in the classroom creates problems of its own, especially the neglect of higher-functioning students. He also points out that "tracking," the practice of grouping students by ability, is routinely used in school sports programs, and questions whether educators are more concerned about athletic achievement than they are about academic achievement.