Here's some articles I've looked at recently discussing the issue:
"The biggest reason differentiation doesn't work, and never will, is the way students are deployed in most of our nation's classrooms. Toss together several students who struggle to learn, along with a smattering of gifted kids, while adding a few English-language learners and a bunch of academically average students and expect a single teacher to differentiate for each of them. That is a recipe for academic disaster if ever I saw one. Such an admixture of students with varying abilities in one classroom causes even the most experienced and conscientious teachers to flinch, as they know the task of reaching each child is an impossible one."
"Differentiation is a term that is widely used in educational circles these days. There has been a noticeable increase in recent years in staff development offerings on differentiation strategies; schools’ goals and missions often use this concept in their statements; a great variety of educational literature addresses this topic. Yet, effective differentiation for the gifted student remains elusive and in too many cases, nonexistent. This article will explore some of the reasons for the current status of differentiation and offer some solutions as well."
"IN THE PROCESS OF IMPLEMENTING STANDARDS-BASED reform, it is important to remember that the charge to provide all students with challenging mathematics and science requires consideration of high ability students. Today’s heterogeneous classrooms will include students who have advanced abilities and talents. It is essential that the needs of these gifted students not be overlooked or neglected as teachers strive to help others reach high standards
Key Components of Mathematics Curriculum for the Gifted
■ Content with greater depth and higher levels of complexity
■ A discovery approach that encourages students to explore concepts
■ Focus on solving complex, open-ended problems
■ Opportunities for interdisciplinary connections (Johnson, 1993)
Key Components of Science Curriculum for the Gifted
■ Significant and deep content
■ Emphasis on understanding concepts rather than memorizing facts
■ An inquiry approach with students as active investigators
■ Opportunities for interdisciplinary connections
■ Investigating real problems and situations
■ Guiding students toward scientific habits of mind (Van Tassel-Baska, 1994)"
A quick skim of any of the comments here shows a lot of skepticism about the effectiveness of differentiation. On the other hand those parents who are satisfied with how things are going don't often speak up on the blog.
So with that introduction:
- How is differentiation actually working for your student? (Please include which school you're at)
- What do you think would improve the implementation?
- Is this the right strategy for the district to pursue?