During her workshop on "Project Based Assessment," one of the presenters at the misnamed "Celebration of Teaching and Learning" made a comment that struck me.
She said she had been a teacher in an affluent community, and as a result she had had an extremely wide variation in her students' instructional levels. The reading levels in her 6th grade class ranged all the way from first grade to college level.
That enormous range made group projects more or less a requirement, in her view. When students whose reading level ranges from 1st grade to college work together, the differentiation handles itself. (Her actual words may have been: "They differentiate themselves," perhaps. Unfortunately, my iPad erased my notes.)
It had never occurred to me that affluent districts might have substantially more variability inside the classroom than less affluent districts, though as I think about it, it makes sense.
If it's true that teachers routinely see extremely wide variation in ability and instructional level in high-SES schools, this is another case where the use of group means as the only measure of success is particularly deadly in affluent districts.