In today’s educational environment, all students expect to receive the same level of instruction from schools and all students must meet the same set of standards. Expectations for students with learning disabilities are the same as students without any learning difficulties. It is now unacceptable for schools or teachers to expect less from one segment of students because they have physical disabilities, learning disabilities, discipline problems, or come from poor backgrounds. Standardize testing has resulted in making every student count as much as their peers and the most positive impact has been seen with the lowest ability students. Schools have developed new approaches to reach these previously underserved students while maintaining passing scores for the whole student body. To ensure academic success, teachers employ a multi-strategy approach to develop students of differing abilities and backgrounds. Every student is different in what skills and experiences they bring to the classroom; their personality, background, and interests are as varied as the ways in which teachers can choose to instruct them. Differentiated instruction has been an effective method in which teachers can engage students of various backgrounds and achieve whole-class success. When using differentiated instruction, teachers develop lesson strategies for each student or groups of students that provide different avenues of learning but all avenues arrive at the same learning goal.
How do teachers enable all students of varying abilities to reach the same goals and standards established for their grade level? Instruction begins with a concept of treating each student as a unique learner whose strengths and weaknesses have determined by assessments and previous work. Of the utmost importance to the teacher who differentiates is providing a learning environment and opportunity that excludes no child (Anderson, 2007). Effective differentiated instruction reflects where the students currently are in their educational stage and not where a teacher wishes them to be. This step is important; placing students either too high or too low in the instruction can be adverse to the teacher’s goal of helping all students. Developing lesson strategies for students that are too demanding may have a negative effect on performance and reinforce negative emotions concerning learning. Likewise, developing lesson strategies that do not challenge students to perform at their best can also have a negative effect. Some students that are not engaged by a teacher's instruction are left adrift waiting for new or more stimulating material. Engaging students in the learning strategy is the key ingredient in producing active learners.
When teachers develop differentiated instruction strategies for students they provide several different avenues for the student to achieve the same learning goal regardless of which path they choose. Student choice in...