"Like all human beings, children learn and develop at different rates and in different ways; they learn different content at different rates and in different ways. Despite that, traditional education moves students through grade levels in age-similar groups. This approach may be less tumultuous socially than students working together across age levels, but it impacts students negatively in many other ways and is inconsistent with natural developmental differences that make people unique." --Delivering on the Promise (pg. 16)
With a national movement towards standards and performance assessments, the industrial structure of herding students together by age as opposed to readiness is out-dated. Differentiation is an attempt to meet kids where they are within the same age group, but why do students of the same age need to be together? What is the fear of grouping by readiness? Will a self-fulfilling prophecy ensue? The one room school house has only been recently replaced with our current model. Previously, multi-aged teaching and learning occurred, using the older students as models and supports for the younger students. And adolescents were integrated into the adult world through apprentice programs. This is how communities historically have socialized their young. If we are going to best support students in their ability to meet standards, we need to re-focus our curriculum decisions based on readiness and not age.