What does DIFFERENTIATION Look Like Going Forward?

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We, as a nation, are currently in uncharted waters.  I recently received an email from my own son’s school system, confirming what was already known: that his pending testing for acceleration in mathematics was postponed indefinitely until we get this quarantine sorted out and SAFELY back into the brick-and-mortar setting.  For us, we looked forward to the results of the future testing, to finally begin to get him challenged in some of his areas of giftedness.  (Sidenote: His 2nd grade teacher recommended that he be tested for both math and reading, but current district policy only allows acceleration in 1 subject.  Go figure?!) 

I’m sure our situation is not isolated.  Our current virtual schooling- in many places, without official grades and end-of-course testing- puts a lot of differentiation into questions… 

  • How will we determine which learners will be added to (or continue to advanced within) accelerated content courses for 2020-2021, especially when end-of-grade testing was the largest marker for these decisions?
  • If portfolios will be used to determine advanced placement, how will we ensure educators are properly equipped to identify giftedness and its many faces?

Similar to missed graduation milestones, parents of gifted 3rd graders in North Carolina were looking forward end-of-the-year CogAT testing to finally get the academic label necessary to require differentiation for their learner. Due to quarantining, those test will now be done at the beginning-of-the-year… right along with beginning-of-the-year benchmark testing. This brings into question chronic issues such as over testing. Transitioning back to brick-and-mortar teaching will require a lot of critical planning and implementation. I just hope that politicians and educational leaders are ready to collaborate and compromise with the best interests of CHILDREN and EDUCATOR at the forefront.

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