Tuesday, November 24, 2009

Tackling Difficult Tasks Tactically and Tastefully

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It has been confirmed that there is a problem with the United States educational system. Often the teachers are placed at fault for this failure; although I feel that the problem is more profound than that. At the present time, I believe there is a gap between the delivery of educational material and assessment of mastery. During a teacher’s entire matriculation in college, they are taught that each student learns differently. Furthermore, there is a belief that if the Differentiated Instruction method is incorporated into the pedagogy then low level students will reach the same mastery level of regular or advance students.  If students with disabilities are to reach higher general curriculum standards, they need to learn in classrooms where they can both access the general curriculum, and reap the benefits of high expectations (Good, 2001; Kolb & Jussim, 1994; Lee & Smith, 1999; Rosenthal & Jacobson, 1968). How can this be accomplished with a student who has the Intelligence quotient (IQ) score of 60 in a general education class? If this student can only read on a third (3rd) grade level and write on a fifth (5th) grade level, how can I assess him on the same level as a gifted student with the IQ of 140? Brian McGarvey and his colleagues (1997) found that teachers were trying to apply the principles of differentiation in their classrooms. However, many teachers needed help incorporating a variety of different instructional skills. Teachers faced many obstacles, including difficulty in planning lessons and in adapting their teaching methods to allow for differentiation.

We are told throughout the school year to make special accommodations (i.e. narrowing choices, more time given to take tests, copy of teacher’s notes, peer tutoring) for the Special Education students. However, when it is time for them to be assessed by the county or state, these assessments are not accommodated for their specific disability or learning style. Which leads to my first question, “Are our students being assessed correctly based on their disability or learning style?” It is not that the student does not understand or did not master the material; but were the questions presented in a manner where the students could not comprehend them. It has been verified that there are currently seven learning styles which include: Linguistic, Logical, Spatial, Kinesthetic, Musical, Interpersonal and Intrapersonal.  Is it possible to hypothesize that a student needs to take assessments that are compatible with their learning style to generate and maximize more accurate assessment results?

Today I have posed to very difficult questions that can only be answered with years of research and development. However, to create a solution to a problem you must first identify that there is actually a problem present.


McGarvey, B., Marriot, S., Morgan, V., & Abbott, L. (1997). Planning for differentiation. Curriculum Studies, 29(3), 351-363.