Assessment and Student Success in a Differentiated Classroom

Assessment and Student Success in a Differentiated Classroom

Assessment and Student Success in a Differentiated Classroom

Assessment and Student Success in a Differentiated Classroom


Carol Ann Tomlinson and Tonya R. Moon take an in-depth look at assessment and show how differentiation can improve the process in all grade levels and subject areas. After discussing differentiation in general, the authors focus on how differentiation applies to various forms of assessment--pre-assessment, formative assessment, and summative assessment--and to grading and report cards. Readers learn how differentiation can

--Capture student interest and increase motivation

--Clarify teachers' understanding about what is most important to teach

--Enhance students' and teachers' belief in student learning capacity; and

--Help teachers understand their students' individual similarities and differences so they can reach more students, more effectively

Throughout, Tomlinson and Moon emphasize the importance of maintaining a consistent focus on the essential knowledge, understandings, and skills that all students must acquire, no matter what their starting point.

Detailed scenarios illustrate how assessment differentiation can occur in three realms (student readiness, interest, and learning style or preference) and how it can improve assessment validity and reliability and decrease errors and teacher bias.

Grounded in research and the authors' teaching experience, Assessment and Student Success in a Differentiated Classroom outlines a common-sense approach that is both thoughtful and practical, and that empowers teachers and students to discover, strive for, and achieve their true potential.


When you starts measuring somebody, measure him right, child, measure him right.
Make sure you done take into account what hills and valleys he come through before
he got to wherever he is.

—Lorraine Hansberry, A Raisin in the Sun

As I suspect is the case for many teachers, my early teaching career was shaped more by my experiences as a K–12 and university student than by anything I learned in teacher education classes, and certainly more than by any clearly defined sense of what constitutes substantive teaching and learning. What I had seen my teachers do was, in large measure, what I did. I “played school” to learn how to teach in much the same way that children “play house” to learn how to become adults. and the gap between my roleplaying and the art of teaching was about the same as the gap between playing house and artful parenting.

The chasm between how I thought about and planned for teaching and what I needed to do to lift my students’ prospects significantly was most evident in my understanding (or lack of understanding) of assessment. in fact, I have no recollection of the presence of that word in my active educational lexicon. Had someone asked me to define assessment, I’d likely have responded, “Oh, sure. That means tests, grades, and report cards.” Those three elements were clear in my thinking. I found grades and report cards to be aversive. Tests were something of a game, I suppose, up to a point.

My test-making strategy went something like this. At key junctures in a marking period, I realized I needed some grades, or that my students needed a dose of accountability, or that the unit I was teaching was nearing a point of conclusion—the end of a subtopic, the end of the unit, the midterm, or the end of a grading cycle. Then I sat down to create a test. I reflected on what my students and I had been exploring and tried to hit the high points. I worked to ensure that the test questions called on students to . . .

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