Effective and meaningful differentiation is both the prize of modern education and the lifeblood of the twenty-first century classroom.
At its heart, differentiating instruction simply means that you observe and take into account the differences and similarities among your students when planning and implementing instruction. Teachers adopting a traditional view of differentiation would adapt and modify instruction – teaching, materials, setting, and even content, process and ultimately products produced – to meet the learning needs of their individual students. This would take place during lessons, but also before and after them, so that every aspect of instruction is ultimately catered to individuals.
While this sounds amazing, it also sounds time-consuming and difficult. How are teachers, who are already overworked and struggling to meet the demands placed on them, supposed to take time out to make instruction fit for every single student in a class?
CARS & STARS Online is built on the core belief that no student learns exactly the same way or at exactly the same pace, and this knowledge informs the whole program – making it one built on differentiation as its central concept, rather than something added later to complement existing, more rigid instruction.
The very first element of CARS & STARS Online is the Placement Test, which assigns students to a reading level appropriate for them from the very beginning. As they progress through pretests, benchmarks and post-tests, students are carefully monitored, producing consistent and continuous data that allows the teacher to stay fully on top of their progression and modify instruction accordingly.
The teacher is still fully in control, but CARS & STARS Online makes that control as easy to exercise as simply scrolling through a list. By receiving instant access to results as they are entered by the student, the teacher can utilise up-to-the-second information to guide instruction and decide where they will take students next.
Frequent student feedback and reflection is baked into CARS & STARS Online, through both the regular, recurring ‘Self-Assessment’ sections and an emphasis on group work and discussions throughout parts of the program.
CARS & STARS Online is built on the core idea of offering every student instruction personalised to their needs. With CARS & STARS Online's advanced system of classroom management, one teacher can administer a class in which every student might be at an instructionally different level.
A teacher using CARS & STARS Online for their class – or group of classes – can stay on top of individual student progress while providing instruction that caters to the individual needs of every student with a program that sees differentiation as a core feature, rather than as an extra element to strive for.