Differential Treatment

If you haven’t heard yet, differentiation is all the rage in education. Albert Einstein’s famous quote sums up the need for differentiation quite nicely,

“Everybody is a genius. But if you judge a fish by its ability to climb a tree, it will live its whole life believing that it is stupid.”

However, I wonder if differentiation has lent itself to preferential treatment within education.

Ok, so that claim may seem a little far fetched, but if we truly embrace differentiation our students can all learn differently AND will be graded differently. What is a 90 for little Rayne is not necessarily a 90 for Sophie, yet we can ensure that both receive a 90 in their submissions thanks to differentiation.

So, has differentiation made grades obsolete? No, I don’t think so, but they are no longer useful in the traditional sense. Rewrites alone have made grades a moot point for universities to use when comparing students; there is no way for a post secondary institution to know that one student with a 98 rewrote 10 assessments and another student from a different school wasn’t given the chance to rewrite anything yet still achieved a 98. Clearly, these two students are at different ability levels, but their grades do not reflect this.

Differentiation is definitely a good thing for education, students have different talents. However, I find differentiation a very difficult pill to swallow as a secondary education teacher inside a standards-based grading paradigm.


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