kitchen table math, the sequel: Steve H on differentiated grading vs tiered homework

Saturday, March 20, 2010

Steve H on differentiated grading vs tiered homework

Catherine wrote:
"A teacher can easily print out easy problems for the slow kids, medium problems for the medium kids, and hard problems for the hard kids."

Steve H wrote:

I mentioned before that our schools do not have tiered homework. Parents would find out and (rightfully) go ballistic. They do it using a nonlinear rubric between 1-5. Anyone can do the extra work and try to get a 5. The nonlinear aspect allows many lower ability kids to get 3's, but it drives the more able kids crazy when they try to get a 5. The grading is differentiated, not the assignment. All the teachers have to do is vary their judgment slightly when they grade the work.

Spiraling works perfectly with this idea. They present the same material to all kids. If you don't get it this time, you will see it again. The teaching is not differentiated. If you don't understand something, then (by definition) it's your problem. With full inclusion, this means that the student is either slow or just not ready for the material yet. They might be sincere about teaching the best they can, but they have no way of knowing one way or the other.


Full inclusion is the goal, and differentiated instruction is the cover. Actually, a number of years ago, they used the term "differentiated learning". I'll have to see if I can find that. At least that would be more honest.

At our schools, the goal is social for K-6; warm and fuzzy. Starting in 7th grade, they put the screws to the kids, but it's made very clear that any issues belong to the student. They have to work hard and take responsibility for their own learning. The school sets them up in K-6, then whacks them on the head when they get to 7th. And the kids really believe that it's their own fault.

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