Where is the evidence to support differentiation?

Filling the pail

Following my last post, a number of people challenged me on Twitter about differentiation. I was not surprised by this. Differentiation is an article of faith within schools of education and questioning it is seen as heresy.

Let me make clear that I am not against all forms of differentiation. Part of the problem is the elasticity of the term. I have had discussions with some who regard the practice of placing students in different classes based upon prior achievement as ‘differentiation’. The evidence for ability grouping is ambiguous but at least it has the potential to be efficient. I also employ practices that could be described as ‘differentiation’ in my own work. For instance, I often ask some students to work on problems while I reexplain a concept to a section of the class.

Yet to many teachers and teacher educators, differentiation means something quite specific. It means grouping students within

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