Advocates of differentiated instruction are sometimes asked whether tiering instruction is the same as tracking students.
Answer: tiering is NOT the same as tracking.
Tracking refers to the decades-old practice of splitting students into homogenous groups based on roughly the same intelligence level. The homogeneous groups typically stay together and move from class to class throughout the day.
Tiering refers to the creating of flexible groups within the classroom to match learners' instructional needs with the learning at hand. Tiering can apply to readiness, learning profile, interest, process (activities), and assessment. Flexible grouping is just as it sounds; students are regrouped according to the learning at hand and regrouped again based on the learning at hand. Tiering takes place only in the individual classroom.