Should all students be taught complex mathematics?
The best way to avoid this outcome is to offer struggling students individual support so that they can “catch up” with the rest of the class – and gain some self-confidence along the way. If teachers believe that some differentiation is necessary, they can opt to use teaching methods that do not segregate weak students further, such as making students work in groups that are frequently reconfigured on the basis of students’ needs and progress.
Teachers believe it is best to adapt instruction to what their students can do.
According to principals’ reports, on average across OECD countries, about 70% of students attend schools where teachers believe that it is best to adapt academic standards to students’ capacities and needs. Heterogeneity seems to be more of a problem in disadvantaged schools, where some students have a poor understanding of mathematics and minimal skills in the subject. Teachers in disadvantaged schools are more likely than those in advantaged schools to agree that the content of instruction should be adapted to what students can do. In Germany, for example, 51% of principals of disadvantaged schools reported that teachers are willing to adapt their standards, while only 13% of principals of advantaged schools so reported.