Differentiated Assessment

why we differentiated pic 1


Differentiated assessment is the way by which teachers modify and match assessment with the varied characteristics/profiles of students in order to meet the students’ individual needs, thereby enhancing their learning and boosting their ability to show what they have learned. Students differ in their previous learning experiences, readiness, learning styles, preferences, academic standing, abilities, strengths and weaknesses, culture, race, and backgrounds.

Teachers use differentiated assessment to match and respond to the varying learning needs of diverse students in a classroom.

By differentiating assessments, teachers help diverse students to successfully demonstrate their competencies in particular ways that are fitting and effective for them. By providing various assessment methods/activities appropriate for particular types of students, the teachers are able to meet the students’ individual needs, thereby helping them to be successful in their learning.

Designing various assessments apt for specific groups of learners provides more opportunities for students to effectively demonstrate what they have learned.

Differentiated assessments also guide teachers on how they can differentiate, modify and improve instruction.

Differentiated assessments can be done by designing and providing various assessment methods and activities that are appropriate for each type of students such that they can effectively learn and demonstrate what they have learned. Differentiated assessments can be done by providing them various options and opportunities to show their learning and proficiency. From a list of Zach Burrus, Dave Messer and Judith Dodge, here are some ways of differentiating assessments:

  • Designing tiered activities
  • Scaffolding struggling learners
  • Challenging advanced learners with more mid-stimulating activities
  • Adjusting questions
  • Compacting
  • Flexible grouping
  • Flexible assignments and tasks based on students’ learning styles
  • Learning contracts
  • Asking students to do:
    • Role playing
    • Unit collage
    • Individual projects
    • Visual presentations
    • Oral presentations
    • Written presentations
    • Summaries and reflections
    • Lists, charts and graphic organizers
    • Group/collaborative activities
    • Comic books
    • Raps/songs/dances/other performances


BOSTES. (n.d.). Diffrentiated assessment. Retrieved from http://syllabus.bos.nsw.edu.au/support-materials/differentiated-assessment/

Burrus, Z. & Messer, D. (n.d.). Differentiation and assessment. Retrieved from https://sites.google.com/site/aceeducatorresources/Home/assessment-resources/differentiation-and-assessment

Dodge, J. (2009). 25 Quick formative assessments for a differentiated classroom. Retrieved from http://store.scholastic.com/content/stores/media/products/samples/21/9780545087421.pdf

Kinzie, C.L. & Markovchick, K (n.d.). Comparing traditional and differentiated classrooms. Retrieved from http://www.mainesupportnetwork.org/pdfs/sing07/Singapore%20-%20Handout%20-%20DI%20-%20Comparing%20Traditional%20and%20Diff.pdf

Teaching as Leadership. (n.d.) P-4: Differentiate your plans to fit your students. Retrieved from http://teachingasleadership.org/sites/default/files/How_To/PP/P-4/P4_Trad_v_Diff_Classroom.pdf

More examples of differentiated strategies, taken from the list of Chapman, Gregory and King:

Using/providing assessment tools before instruction like:

  • Ponder and Pass
  • Signal and Action Response
  • Take a Stand
  • Knowledge Base Corners or Squaring Off
  • Content Boxes
  • Content Surveys
  • Personal Surveys and Inventories
  • Brainstorming
  • Color Clusters
  • Gallimaufry Gathering
  • ELO (Evening Learning Opportunities)
  • Pretests
  • Standardized Testing Data
  • Boxing
  • Yes / No Cards
  • Graffiti Facts
  • Four-Corner Pre-Assessment

Using/providing assessment tools during instruction like:

  • Observation
  • Anecdotal Assessment
  • Clipboard Stickies
  • Card Cruising
  • Know it! Show it!
  • Response Cards
  • High Five
  • A Bump in the Road
  • Color-Coding
  • Sketches From the Mind
  • Analyzing Student Notes
  • Checkpoint Tests
  • Daily Grades
  • Thumb It
  • Face the Fact
  • Reaching for the Top
  • Speedometer Reading

Using/providing assessment tools after instruction like:

  • Effective Questioning: open-ended and reflection questions
  • Post-Sharing Celebrations: wrap-around, carousel gala and rhythmic fan-fare
  • Likert Scales to Assess Learning, Attitude, and Progress
  • Rubrics
  • Checklists
  • Design Delights
  • Assessing With Journals
  • Jazzy Journal Assessment
  • Graphic Organizers
  • Prompts for Assessment
  • Assessing With a Blank Page
  • Performance Assessment
  • Teacher-Made Tests (true-false, multiple choice, fill in the blank, open-ended questions, performance tests, skills tests, problem based)
  • Portfolios
  • Conversation Circles
  • Donut

Using/providing summative assessment tools like:

  •  Assessment Cubing
  • Choice Boards
  • Stations, Centers, and Learning Zones: Exploratory Stations and Structured Stations


Wikihome (n.d.). Differentiated instructional strategies. Retrieved from http://differentiatedstrategies.wikispaces.com/Differentiated+Strategies+for+Assessment


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