Giving Students the Right Medicine

Summerconf_logo_100x98In this morning’s session “A District’s Journey to Student Success for All,” Maria Chrzanowski and Stacey Harris of Amarillo ISD, Tex., discussed their districtwide reform effort. While explaining this, an interesting and alarmingly simple analogy was used to show why many districts have failed: medicine.

Simply put, they argued that schools are essentially using one pill to solve every problem. If a student has a headache, you give him or her headache medicine. But if a student breaks something, then you probably should not give them the same pill. That, they said, is what many schools are doing in the classroom—using the same methods again to solve a plethora of problems, when they need to be looking at different techniques and methods.

Instead of refilling one prescription to fit all students, differentiated instruction, they said, can act as many “medicines,” giving struggling students the interventions they need.