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Assessment & Differentiation

by Tim and Ashli

Once upon a time, assessment involved differentiating the saved from the damned.  But, thanks to Expeditionary Learning and our fearless leaders, another path to salvation has opened for today's students and teachers.

We created this page as a tool for all of us to use as a resource once we leave this land of learning in Portland.  Assessment and differentiated instruction are inextricably intertwined.  The key is to plan ahead so that you and your students will be fully prepared to enjoy hands-on learning experiences and make meaningful connections. 


What is assessment?     What is differentiation?     Formative assessment     Summative Assessment     How do I differentiate?   

Assessment (link to EL Benchmarks)

Differentiation (link to article)


Drives instruction (Backwards design)

Based on state standards

Invites students into the learning process

Creates opportunity for student reflection and self-evaluation

Prompts students to take responsibility for their learning

Involves explicit criteria

Includes a variety of tools used to monitor student progress

Recognizes the skills, abilities and knowledge of individual students

Takes students' interests and strengths into account

Employs a variety of teaching strategies

Considers brain-based learning and multiple intelligences

Facilitates student growth and success



Ongoing informal assessment through discussion, probing questions, and observation

Effective, high quality rubrics and product descriptors which provide all students with opportunities to succeed and allow students to measure their own progress.

Reliance on drafting process  which makes use of peers and adult advisors.

Portfolio assessment to maintain artifacts of students' skills, ideas, interests, and accomplishments

Use of traditional homework assignments, quizzes and tests

Essays, designs, drawings, skits, simulations


(Final product)

Performance-based real world, authentic application of student knowledge.

Web Site Example, 

Video Example

Variety of instructional materials used to scaffold student progress

Differentiation Video

This is a clip of Scott's presentation on differentiation.  It is not the best video, but  the audio will take you back to Casco Bay and jog your memory about options for differentiation.

Classroom tasks and assignments linked to course goals and state standards

Big picture, concept-focused, interdisciplinary instruction

Student choice of research topics or projects

Expeditions designed to facilitate differentiation at each stage of the project

All students supported as they do their best work throughout the entire expedition 

Students finish work at their own rate

Assistance and additional time provided to those students with special needs

Opportunities for more in-depth research, extended learning, and participation in final product development upon completion of basic requirements

Steps to Follow in Differentiated Instruction


After a week of differentiated instruction and some serious performance assessment, here we are. 

One big, happy summit family.

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