Differentiated assessment is an ongoing process of evaluation where the teacher gathers information and data before, during, and after instruction to better facilitate the learning. This process ensures success for all students in the differentiated class with data provided from a variety of sources assisting in giving an overall view of student achievement. It is essential that when assessing students in the differentiated class, assessment is authentic meaning it offers students a variety of tasks demonstration real-life skills, tells the educator if the student has acquired the skills or concepts, is based on standard criteria to achieve validity, and guides students for roles in adult life (Chapman & King, 2012).

Formative Preassessment Tools
In a quality class, the teacher performs assessment before the learning takes place. This ensures the teacher plans the lessons to best meet the needs of the students. The following are examples of formative preassessment tools (Chapman & King, 2012).

Ponder and Pass
On a chart, the students are to write the facts they know on the given concept, information they want to learn, and questions they want to explore. The paper is then passed around the room.

Signal and Action Response
The students perform an action which indicates their level of understanding of a concept, for example:
  • Waving hands = I know it
  • Shrug of shoulders = I have a hunch
  • Thumbs down = I have no idea

Take a Stand
The teacher places numbers around the room and the students move to a number based on their understanding. With their group, the students discuss what they know about the concept or what they want to know.

Knowledge Base Corners or Squaring Off
The students move to a corner based on their understanding of a concept. The teacher predetermines the level of understanding at each corner. The students discuss the topic with their group members. For example the corners could include; Not a clue, I know a little bit, I know a lot, I’ve got it. Another option is; Little League, Minor League, Major League, World Series.

Content BoxesThe teacher provides the students with graphic organizers based on the new unit of study. The graphic organizers are divided into categories and sub categories connected to the topic. The students complete the information they already know.

Content SurveysThe teacher poses questions based on the unit of study to provide background information on the topic. For example, How does this topic relate to you? What do you want to know about the upcoming study?

Personal Surveys and InventoriesThese surveys provide information about the life of the student; interests, emotions, feelings, likes, dislikes, dreams, and goals. These questions may help the teacher direct the impact of the learning. For example, list your favorite? What is your least favorite?

Brainstorming can be used to give the students a voice in the upcoming unit. For example, list the terms, facts, or concepts you know about our new topic.
ABC Brainstorming.pdf
Retrieved from http://www.studenthandouts.com/3web/abcbrainstorming.pdf

Color Clusters
The students are given color indicators. They show their color based on their knowledge or understanding. For example,
  • Green = on the launch pad
  • Yellow = cautious
  • Red = moving on up
  • Blue = soaring

Gallimaufry Gathering
This activity should be assigned a week or two prior to the unit of study. The students are to become scavengers, discoverers, and investigators. They then fill a box of “things” related to the unit of study. The students could even be asked to fill out a survey on the items they found relating their connection or importance to the topic. This gathering is often done at home.

ELO (Evening Learning Opportunities)
The students are asked to gather information on the upcoming topic. It is to be completed independently at home. This should not be graded and is not considered homework. For example, be a detective and locate a recipe that uses tablespoons, teaspoons, and a cup to measure ingredients. Bring a copy of the recipe to school to share.

The test reveals the background knowledge base of the students.

Standardized Testing Data
Analyze and interpret previous standardized testing data related to the unit of study.

The students draw a box in the center of a page. They then draw a smaller box inside the first box. In the outside box the students print what they know about the topic. In the inside box the students print what they want to learn or what is their goal in the unit.

Yes / No Cards
Students have cards with "yes" written on one side and "no" written on the other. The students are asked questions and hold up the yes or no accordingly.

Graffiti Facts
The students create a graffiti type display of what they already know about a topic.

Four-Corner Pre-Assessment
The students have a piece of paper divided into four sections. In each section are the following headings such as; something you know, two questions you have, a project idea, with whom you would like to work. These headings of course, can be changed depending on the desired outcomes and the needs of the class.

Retrieved from http://www.eduplace.com/graphicorganizer/pdf/kwl.pdf

Assessment During the Learning
To maintain a high quality learning environment, it is necessary the teacher performs assessments during the learning. The ongoing assessment provides essential information which helps to facilitate the learning. The following are differentiated strategies to help support this type of assessment (Chapman & King, 2012).

The teacher continuously searches for evidence of learning by collecting data on the students. This is one of the most effective formative assessment tools available to the teacher.

Anecdotal Assessment
The teacher gathers notes and records data. The anecdotal record is a documentation written during observations.
  • Clipboard Stickies – attach sticky notes to a clipboard, record information as observed.
  • Card Cruising- the teacher uses index cards to record information about the students.

Know it! Show it!
Some examples on how to Show it;
  • Tell a partner your answer to the teacher's question, compile all the answers.
  • Say the correct answer together.
  • Come to consensus as a group and create your platform.
  • Tab the answer with a sticky note flag.
  • Place a game piece on the answer.
  • Demonstrate with a manipulative.
  • Role-play to create a simulation.
  • Demonstrate and tell the process used.
  • Tell your step-by-step procedure.
  • Mark in your class notes using a unique symbol or font.
  • Point to the answer or example on/in a; graph, passage, text, SMART board, book, picture, sentence, computer, transparency, diagram, journal, bulletin board, document reader, chart.

Response Cards
Cards are given to the students. On one side of the card is an answer such as, "I know" or "I understand", while the reverse of the card has the opposite answer such as, "I do not know" or "lost". When the teacher asks a question, the student shows the side according to his or her understanding.

High FiveThe students use a five point ranking to indicate their understanding
5 = I understand it and can explain it.
4= I can use it but cannot explain it.
3= I am growing but need help.
2= I am beginning to understand.
1= I am lost.

A Bump in the Road
A student writes a problem or question on the top of a piece of paper. The student passes the paper to three to five classmates to get their suggestions or answers to the question. Each person must initial their response to overcome the bump in the road.

Colors can be used to identify steps, procedures, or high-light important items. For example,
1 = black
2= blue
3= green
4= red
5= purple

Sketches From the Mind
Students make simple sketches to represent key words or as markers to identify facts or concepts

Analyzing Student Notes
Looking at student notes gives the teacher insight into the thought process of the students.

Checkpoint Tests
The teacher uses periodic checkpoint tests after reading or demonstrating a skill. This gives the teacher a quick assessment of the ability level of the students.

Daily Grades
The teacher selects grades from daily assignments, projects, problem-solving opportunities, homework, quizzes, etc. Frequent grades provide a more accurate picture of the student's performance.

Thumb It
The students indicate with their thumb their knowledge on the concepts.
Upside = know a lot
Onside = know some
Downside = know very little

Face the Fact
Students indicate their responses to teacher questions with faces; happy face, straight face, or sad face. The faces can be drawn on paper and students hold up the appropriate face.

Reaching for the Top
The students extend on arm straight up in the air. The students move the opposite hand up their straight arm as a gauge to their understanding. The higher the second arm, the more the student understands the concept.

Speedometer ReadingThe students lay one arm on top of the other with hands touching elbows. The students move the arm on top to show a "speed". The higher up the arm, the more the understanding.

Formative Assessment After the Learning
Of course it is essential the teacher assesses the students after the learning to ensure growth has taken place. The following examples are intended to provide immediate feedback of progress (Chapman & King, 2012).

Effective Questioning Techniques
  • Open-Ended Questions: These questions requires the students to think and choose their answer. Sample questions could be; explain how, describe, tell more about, what is your opinion of, etc.
  • Reflection Questions: These questions will require students to analyse and reflect on their work. Sample questions could be; what discoveries have you made, what is the most important thing you learned, what do you need to learn next, etc.

Post-Sharing Celebrations
  • Wraparound: Each student writes a piece of important information on a piece of paper, students are then put into groups. They take turns sharing the information they wrote down.
  • Carousel Gala: The teacher hangs chart paper with headings around the room. The students are divided into groups and assigned a paper to begin. The students write what they know about the topic on the paper. The teacher will then have the kids rotate to the next paper and add any information the previous groups had left off.
  • Rhythmic Fanfare: The students are divided into groups, they are required to make a song, poem, jingle, rap, or chant about specific information from the unit of study. They present these to the rest of the class.

Likert Scales to Assess Learning, Attitude, and ProgressA likert scale is a line of graduated numbers. An individual's level of performance is identified according to the set criteria.
5 - Strongly agree
4 - Agree
3 - Indifferent
2 - Disagree
1 - Strongly disagree

A tool which provides the students with important information on the assessment of an assignment.
Sample rubric
Kathy Schrock's Assessment and Rubric Information
  • Weighted Rubric: A weighted rubric contains a graduated scoring scale.
Retrieved from http://www.fctl.ucf.edu/TeachingAndLearningResources/CourseDesign/Assessment/content/WeightedRubrics.pdf

Checklists breakdown the criteria for evaluation. The teacher bases the checklist on the focus of assessment.
Retrieved from http://www.swlauriersb.qc.ca/english/edservices/pedresources/secure/elachecklists/Writing%20descriptors-Cycle%202.pdf

Design Delights
The students present their information on a design or shape to fit the unit of study.

Assessing With Journals
The student reflects on their work through journal entries.

Jazzy Journal Assessment
Students may use one of the following examples as their journal entry;
  • design a sequence
  • sketch or draw a picture
  • create a caricature
  • use a graphic organizer
  • make a graffiti list using various fonts and colors
  • create a song, rap, jingle, rhyme, chant, or cheer
  • make metaphors or similes.

Graphic Organizers
Graphic organizers are visual representations of the content.

Prompts for Assessment
The following questions may assist the students in assessing their learning;
  • I learned...
  • I still do not understand...
  • I will remember...
  • I was pleased that...
  • An interesting part was...
  • Someone can help me with...
  • I wonder if...
  • This reminds me of...
  • I was surprised when...
  • I can explain...

Assessing With a Blank Page
This is a blank page added at the end of a test. The students can jot down any information they think is important and that they did not get the chance to share on the test. No marks are taken away but extra marks may be awarded. This gives the teacher the opportunity to discover the learning of the student.

Performance AssessmentThe content is shared through a wide variety of methods such as speeches, lists, stories, brochures, etc.

Teacher-Made Tests
  • true-false
  • multiple choice
  • fill in the blank
  • open-ended questions
  • performance tests
  • skills tests
  • problem based

Portfolios are a collection of student work. Often the teacher chooses some of the items for the portfolio and the student chooses other items.
Retrieved from http://www.tcdsb.org/academic_it/ntip/assessment%20files/pdf%20format%20v5/4a-%20assessment%20-%20portfolio%20assessment.pdf

Wraparounds II
The students sit in a circle and they take a turn telling:
  • Something the student will use from the information or activities learned today.
  • Something the student will remember from today.
  • A significant AHA! moment from today.
  • I have learned
  • I hope to learn

Conversation Circles
The students are put into groups of three. The first student begins talking and continues until the teacher says stop. The second student continues where the first student left off. On the signal, the third student picks up from the second student.

The students draw a donut shape. On the outside the students print "I am learning" and on the inside they print "I know. They fill the donut in accordingly and share their answers with the class or a group.

Summative Assessment

Assessment Cubing
Cubing adds choice and novelty to the students thinking.
Retrieved from http://daretodifferentiate.wikispaces.com/Cubing+and+Think+Dots

Choice Boards
Choice boards present a variety of ways for the students to demonstrate their knowledge.
Choice Boards.pdf
Retrieved from http://www1.cbsd.org/sites/teachers/middle/csikora/DI%20Handouts/Choice%20Boards%20Packet.pdf

Assessment Agendas
These are specific assignments used to meet the needs of the students. They can also be referred to as menus.

Stations, Centers, and Learning Zones
  • Exploratory Stations: The students are given a variety of material to discover, create, process, or invent in a method that is the most beneficial to them.
  • Structured Stations: These stations are created with a specific goal in mind.


Chapman, C. & Gregory, G.H., (2007) Differentiated instructional strategies: One size doesn't fit all, second edition. Thousand Oaks. California: Corwin Press.

Chapman, C. & King, R., (2012). Differentiated assessment strategies: One tool doesn’t fit all, second edition. Thousand Oaks, California: Corwin Press.