Classroom Assessment and Differentiation - NWAEA

Summary of Chapter 4
Differentiation and the Brain
Katie Boyle
“If we use the yardstick of supporting student
success as a measure of effective assessment
practices, then we quickly see that that
mystery, harsh judgment, external motivation,
and trickery that many teachers experienced in
their own schooling fall short. Assessment
should not be used to categorize students, but
to push their learning forward”
(Earl, 2003 as cited on p. 67).
Classroom assessments align with the essential
knowledge, essential understanding, and
essential skills delineated by a high quality
Students in classrooms that exhibit effective
instructional practices are not surprised by the
contents of assessments.
Effective classroom assessments are
appropriate for their intended use:
Right kind of assessment to measure what needs to
be measured;
 A fair sample of the content to be assessed;
 Emphasizes what matters most in the topic of study;
 Works for the students who will use it.
Communication is key! The teacher makes sure
that the targets of the assessment are clear
throughout the instructional cycle that
precedes the assessment but also that the
assessment itself models clear communication
Effective classroom assessment practice leads to
improved instruction—helps teachers identify
what they taught well and “what needs work.”
Contribute to students’ sense of emotional
safety in the classroom by:
Helping students understand from the outset of a
unit what is valued and what quality looks like;
Focusing students on critical outcomes and
attributes of quality;
Contributing to a growth mindset in students by
proving to them that consistent effort=success;
Increasing students’ ownership of learning and
“Assessment is integral to the success of virtually
everything that happens in the classroom…
Effective assessment practices improve both
teaching and learning”
(Guskey, 2007, as cited on p. 69).
Assessment of Learning
Assessment for Learning
Assessment as Learning
Summative: happens after extended periods of
teaching and learning with an eye toward
determining who has mastered essential
Examples: short answer tests, essay tests, essay
tests, writing assignments, portfolios, authentic
problems to solve, public presentations
Those that assess rote-knowledge skills;
Those that assess higher-level executive
Formative: its purpose is not to determine who
succeeded (or who did not), and to what
Provides guidance to the student through
specific, descriptive feedback by the teacher
Provides guidance to the teacher on how to
craft instructional plans to help students either
get back on track or move forward
Emphasize learning rather than grading; should
generally not be graded
Has a formative emphasis but gives particular
importance to the role of the student in coming
to own his/her success as a learner
Goal is to help students do the following:
Develop self-awareness and skills
 Ask important questions
 Construct meaning
 Use specific teacher feedback to make adjustments
 Relate their learning to their experiences
 Make connections
Clear articulation of essential knowledge,
understanding and skills
Curriculum that is aligned with the essentials
Instruction and assessment focused on the
Teacher feedback to students that is clear and
The effective use of pre-assessment and formative
assessment is the prelude to effective
The effective use of pre-assessment, formative
assessment, and summative assessment is integral
to ensuring that students and teachers work from a
growth mindset
Effective use of pre-assessment strengthens
student-teacher connections
The effective use of pre-assessment and formative
assessment provides relevant info about student
readiness, interest, and learning profile
Any work students do that is focused on the
knowledge, understanding and skills
designated as essential for a segment of
learning can be formative assessment
Effective pre-assessments, formative
assessments, and summative assessments
provide multiple means of representation,
expression, and engagement
Providing feedback rather than grades for
formative assessment ensures students who
struggle with the content have adequate
practice time before their work is judged.
Using assessment for learning increases
student ownership of learning, student
performance, and student learning efficacy.
Diagnostic/Pre-Assessments: NO
Formative Assessments: Rarely
Summative Assessments: YES
A report card provides a snapshot of a person
who is still developing; is not the final word on
the student’s journey as a learner
The teacher
Has a growth mindset
 Establishes a positive learning environment
 Has learning goals that are focused on
 Communicates learning goals clearly to students
 Teaches with those goals at the center of instruction
 Uses effective classroom assessment practices
 Modifies instructional plans to address gaps
between students’ current learning status and
essential goals
Questions for Teachers to Ask to Determine
Whether an Assessment is Effective
What are the kinds, purposes, and examples of
assessments in a differentiated classroom?