Helping All Learners: Assessment

What role does assessment play in decision making about differentiated instruction?

Assessment plays a critical role in a classroom that provides differentiated instruction. The data from assessments inform a teacher's decision making and help her make instructional choices that will support all students as they work toward proficiency of learning targets.

There is nothing like first-hand evidence. Sherlock Holmes

Teachers in EL Education classrooms are familiar with using assessment to support, engage, and hold all students accountable for rigorous learning. They know the importance of crafting quality long-term and supporting targets, using assessment for learning strategies to monitor student progress and adjust instruction throughout a variety of learning experiences, and creating/using quality assessments to gauge student progress. Differentiated instruction is the proactive acceptance of and planning for student differences in readiness, interest, and learning profiles, with ongoing adjustments based on the results of a variety of assessments for learning practices throughout the teaching and learning cycle. Differentiation in EL Education classrooms means that teachers proactively develop supporting learning targets in a variety of ways to ensure that all students meet long-term targets and are successful on summative assessments.

Learning Target

I can describe the role of assessment in a classroom that provides differentiated instruction for students.

Watch: Use formative Assessment to Differentiate Instruction

  1. Several types of assessment data are used to differentiate instruction for students in the video below. Think about your current use of assessment data. What new ideas do you have? How could you improve the use of assessment data to differentiate instruction?
  2. The video illustrates students producing different types of products to show their learning. What should the determining factor be regarding the format the products take in order to maintain alignment to standards?
  3. One teacher mentions the use of observations, checklists, and anecdotal evidence as a means for decision making regarding differentiated instruction. How do you track what you learn about how your students learn best, and what new ideas do you have for tracking information with intentionality?

Dig Deeper

Assessment and Differentiated Instruction in EL Education:An EL Education document explaining the role that assessment plays within EL classrooms. Addresses learning target stability and scaffolding. 


For Teachers...

  1. Describe the role that assessment plays in a classroom that differentiates instruction for students.
  2. What type of assessment data do you regularly collect from students that would be a good source in terms of guidance for differentiated instruction? How will you use this assessment data with intention to increase the differentiation you currently provide to students? Be specific. 
  3. What structures and systems will you put in place to help you collect and manage assessment information that you use to differentiate instruction?
  4. How can you involve students in these practices so that they can feel empowered?

For School Leaders...

  1. Describe the role that assessment plays in a classroom that differentiates instruction for students.
  2. Which building-wide assessments are currently used to support differentiated instruction in your building? If this is not clear, which assessments could be used to support differentiated instruction in your school?
  3. Teachers are often overwhelmed by the amount of assessment information they have on students. What do you believe your role is in helping them to determine the most appropriate and intentional use of assessment data?