unwilling to try new methods and ideas. While the rest of the world has progressed over the last century, the practice of education has, for the most part, remained static. This refusal to endure change stands in the way of differentiated instruction becoming the standard in today’s classrooms.
In many districts, standards drive curriculum. School districts expect every one of their students to pass the state tests at the end of the year. However, many teachers see state standards and high-stakes testing as incompatible with meeting diverse learning needs through differentiation (Brimijoin, 2005). Although standards for best practice emphasize that all learners should develop in-depth understandings, high-stakes testing may push teachers to standardize instruction and simply “cover” content (Schlechty, 1997; Zemelman, Daniels, & Hyde, 1998). This is contradictory to focusing on student differences.
Many existing report cards make it difficult for teachers to conceive how to grade students in differentiated classrooms. Teachers question how they can stay on top of student progress when students are working on different assignments at different rates. Moreover, they are faced with having to grade differentiated tasks fairly. What do teachers write on the report card when they are doing different things with different students that result in grades with multiple meanings? Grading systems seem to indicate a sort of rigidity and standardization. This runs contrary to differentiated instruction which emphasizes flexibility in teaching and paying attention to differences in students’ readiness levels.
Paperwork, conferences, faculty meetings, committee meetings, coaching, advising, returning phone calls and emails can make teachers feel like they have less and less time for teaching. Likewise, it is easy to feel overwhelmed with all of the changes occurring in schools today. Additional course requirements, increased professional responsibilities, and statewide