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In the following sentence, I want to express that in smaller classes, teachers are able to pay more attention to the individual level of knowledge that each student brings to the classroom when they first start the course.

There are more opportunities to adjust to differences in ... .

I have "entry level" in mind, but I think that's often used in an entirely different context (i.e. to describe the level of the course itself). "Beginning level" and "starting level" are other possibilities, but they sound a little odd to me. I also don't mean starting competencies, because that is more often used in the context of a requirement and that is not what I want to express here.

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differences in students' backgrounds

background

  1. c : the total of a person's experience, knowledge, and education

The context should imply that this is knowledge that the students start or begin with.

If you want to be specific, you could say academic/educational backgrounds.

  • Yes! I knew there was a word to express what I meant but I couldn't think of it. This is exactly it. Thank you! – AmberV Aug 25 '16 at 16:05
  • Oh, well, if you are sure this is "exactly it" then ok. But in general, you are encouraged to wait longer before accepting an answer. :) – Em. Aug 25 '16 at 16:09

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