Differentiated Instruction and Closing the Achievement Gap Thesis

Excerpt from Thesis :

Differentiated Instruction and Closing the Achievement Gap

It is not always easy to see how differentiated instruction is able to initiate an advantage in schools that are performing extremely low or how it could help in closing the achievement gap. On the other hand, research done by experts show something different. Research has been taking a look at schools that have been on the AYP list and achieving results that are outstanding under conditions that are extremely hard. Furthermore, students in today's schools are more scholastically different. There are more students put in special education classes, more students where their first language is not English, and more students having a hard time learning to read. There is a prerequisite to guarantee challenge for learners considered advanced when pressures of accountability put the emphasis on basic competences, and a growing financial gap that exists among segments of the student population. In certainty, academic achievement is considered to be more expressive in individual settings, and the achievement gap outcomes from other gaps that represent individual dissimilarities in the way students experience school. The key to all of this is finding ways to get those gaps closed.

What is Differentiated Instruction?

Differentiated instruction can be described as a method to planning in order for a lesson to be taught to the whole class while collecting the needs of each individual child. The teacher manages to bring these distinct objectives into the classroom content and use them as a practical tactic. The content, in combination with the instructional approaches are what the instructor is able to use in order to meet the needs for the students. Most of the lessons have a certain goal for every student and consist of a diversity of teacher methods intended to help students at every level. The exhibition of the object lesson takes into account student learning styles of the pupil and comprises every one of the students in the lesson by means of utilizing questioning methods designed at varying stages of thinking (Bloom's Taxonomy).

The teacher makes allowances for the pupil's dissimilarities, amends prospects, and offers a choice in the means students will utilize in showing their accepting of the ideas. The teacher also recognizes that various approaches are of similar worth and assesses students based on their individual dissimilarities. Discussion Educational research discovering the subject of academic achievement spreads outside the simple issues of intelligence and previous academic achievement. There are many learning related ideas, for instance, view of academic control and the accomplishment stimulus which have been an emphasis of attention when attempting to identify issues that have an effect on the performance of learning. Cassidy (2004) makes the point that the concept of learning style has offered appreciated insights into other settings and learning. Nevertheless, there are still gaps among learning that need to be closed.

Discovering the gaps

The emphasis on the achievement gap has deepened ever since the No Child Left behind Act (NCLB) which in 2001 was passed. In particular, achievement gaps that are amongst culturally, linguistically, racially, and financially diverse groups position great apprehension to politicians and educators. Another addition of NCLB comprises the recognition of high-stakes analysis to assess achievement and appraise school efficiency (Robinson, 2011). The educational literature is full of references for making student achievement better and terminating the achievement gap; nevertheless, research proposes that the gap resides. Ever since, the values and accountability crusade increased motion in the 1990s, school report cards, school choice through charter schools and vouchers, and school buyouts through state and local-level misunderstanding and rebuilding have extended acceptance (Tomlinson, 2008). However, throughout this time, the achievement gap has improved (Beecher, 2009). Improvement in decreasing school apartheid and enhancing achievement all through the 1960s-1980s has wavered. Societies have become financially segregated, stemming in schools that have bigger poor and minority populations plus lowly success issues that harmfully influence student achievement (Pham, 2012). With that said there are certain gaps that are within differentiated instruction that need to be closed such as the instruction gap.

The Instruction Gap

Teachers that are poor get the poorest learners. Experts believe that teachers are considered to be more effective when their jobs are good. Consequently, they lean toward positions that propose more professional and personal satisfaction, a lot of which include leaving the classroom overall (Santamaria, 2009). Differentiation strategies are very hard to be implemented by teachers that are not motivated themselves or feel that they are not getting paid enough on their jobs. This makes it harder for them to be interested in closing the gap.

There are a lot of experts that believe that those that teach in challenging schools deserve higher pay. Nevertheless this backfires as teachers that are effective become unsuccessful in switching jobs for income that is better and ineffective teachers are compensated with salaries that are higher (Pham, 2012). Experts believe that even when it does work, they are able to come together and find a solution to close the gap. A better strategy is to deliver high-class planning to all educators.

Expectations Gap

In the desire for school testing, a two-tiered system was created: a minimum capability level for students that achieve lower where the attention is placed on assisting them in passing state tests that are less demanding; and the customary supreme proficiency level where college-bound students attempt to get scores that are higher on tougher tests such as the SAT. Experts believe that if kids should be evaluated, then they should be measured by the same great quality. One realistic high school graduation test is the SAT. Previous to high school, the NAEP assessment would likewise be a feasible selection (Santamaria, 2009).

Nonetheless, experts believe that there still can be progress in finishing the Expectations Gap in separate classrooms. In many schools, there has been help in assisting teachers in establishing thoughtful necessities that set great chances for every student (Robinson, 2011). When instructors are qualified to provide students with the tools and time they need to come across those prospects, students then make it their business to triumph. However, other gaps continue when it comes to success.

Recommendations in closing the Gap

Recommendations for improvement of schools usually consist of data-based decision making, curriculum alignment standards-based instruction, and consistency, improving teacher skills through analysis and specialized development, community and family relationship, and other research-based advantages. Even though, these recommendations have value, they have not essentially stemmed in significant differences in student achievement in failing schools (Santamaria, 2009).

Differentiated Lesson Plans

In some schools, teachers have been able to produce specific lessons to include in the units. The idea of separation was apparent during the course of these lessons for the point that it stimulated educators to not put together whole-class, regular lessons and to ruminate the needs of the students regardless where the students' academic level was at.

In some schools, the instructional needs of the students can be dissimilar for the reason that ever student learns differently. Students and teachers had to overcome many challenges in some of these schools. For instance, in one study, the school's clients involved fifth-grade students who had been present at many schools throughout their elementary years and had only basic math skills, children that barely spoke English, students that suffered from diseases that had to miss school for weeks, and children that were homeless (Pham, 2012). Differentiation strategies were set up for these students in order to close the achievement gap.

Teachers' understanding of differentiation approaches was established utilizing a conceptual framework for differentiation (Beecher, 2009). This model starts with the core curriculum necessary by the school region, drawn from national and state standards at the base, and includes instructional approaches for differentiation and thorough means for retrieving skills and ideas in every discipline. Once students have developed a content knowledge foundation, differentiation occasions bring assistance in processing the data, create products, and assess their own work.

In order to allow the planning development, teachers normally utilized a companion matrix (Robinson, 2011) to determine individual lesson plans. This matrix permitted instructors to prepare synchronized distinguished learning experiences for students based on a sole instructional design or a set of linked purposes in a particular subject area. The complex training component of the lesson required instructors to assess the abilities that were most crucial for all of the students in the schoolroom. The concluding student produce and the valuation of this product could be alike or totally unrelated among the learning groups that are flexible. Utilizing the differentiation model with the associated matrix aided as a successful approach in coaching instructors in this difficult process.

Closing the Achievement Gap

Studies show that the achievement of the school improvement exertions were recognized in students' optimistic outlooks when it came down to schools, increased devotion to wanting to learn, not to mention having higher scores on assessments from local and state exams. Studies of student achievement on state tests from 2000 to 2004 displayed enhancement in every one of the subjects and in…

Sources Used in Document:


Beecher, M. & . (2009). Closing the achievement gap with curriculum enrichment and differentiation: One school's story. Journal of Advanced Academics, 19(3), 502-530,551,554.

Pham, H.L. (2012). Differentiated Instruction And The Need To Integrate Teaching And Practice. Journal Of College Teaching & Learning, . Journal Of College Teaching & Learning, 9(1), 13-20.

Robinson, J.P. (2011). Evidence of a differential effect of ability grouping on the reading achievement growth of language-minority Hispanics. Educational Evaluation and Policy Analysis, 19(8), 141-180.

Santamaria, L.J. (2009). Culturally responsive differentiated instruction: Narrowing gaps between best pedagogical practices benefiting all learners. Teachers College Record, 111(1), 214-247.

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