Using Preassessment/Formative Assessment to Determine Ways to Group Students:
 Step 2 of the Differentiated Learning Plan

"Assessment is today's means of modifying tomorrow's instruction."
Carole Tomlinson

In education it should be which came first assessment or learning.
1.) Why Preassess?
Preassessment plays a critical role in your ability to differentiate instruction. You administer preassessments before you being the instruction in a curricular unit in order to gain an understanding of what your students know, understand, and are able to do. Without preassessment, you do not know the preparedness of your students for new learning, the specific learning differences amongst your students, or where to begin devising new curriculum goals (Heacox, 2009). It is a way to determine what students know about a topic before it is taught. It should be used regularly in all curricular areas
  • To make instructional decisions about student strengths and needs
  • To determine flexible grouping patterns
  • To determine which students are ready for advance instruction

2.) Purposes for Preassessment:
· Differentiate Instruction
· Guide whole-group instruction
· Plan learning activities that address varying levels of readiness
· Determine which students have/have not achieved mastery of specific objectives
· Identify problems that might cause students difficulty with mastery of an objective
· Form flexible groups
· Determine master level of individuals or small groups
Strategies for Preassessment
3.) Formal Preassessment Strategies
· Publisher-developed paper/pencil, software, or online formats
· Teacher-developed paper/pencil or online formats
· Journal prompts
· Written responses
· Structured observations
· Student demonstrations
· Student interviews
4.) Informal Preassessment Strategies
· Observations
· Conversations
· Directed questions
· Preassessment webs
· Walkabouts
· Knowledge bar graphs
· Check-in slips
· Visual organizers
· Preassessment carousel
· Teacher email or text messages

This is a great website with LOTS of different differentiating ideas and pre-made assessments

5.) What is Formative Assessment?
Formative Assessment is assessment FOR learning. Formative assessment is part of the instructional process. When incorporated into classroom practice, it provides the information needed to adjust teaching and learning while they are happening. It relies on constant feedback. Learning is enhanced when feedback is given based on product, process, and progress (Fluckiger, 2010). By involving students with feedback and formative assessments, it allows students to be a part of the learning environment and to develop self-assessment strategies that will help with their own metacognition.

Strategies for Formative Assessment
6.) Formal
· Quizzes
· Daily work
· Demonstrations
· Work samples
· Portfolio reviews
· Sketches, drawings, diagrams
· Logs, records, journals
· Drafts
· Graphic organizers
· Exit slips
· Preview/Review

7.) Informal
· Directed questions
· Systematic observation
· Discussion reflections
· Homework scans
· Grade scans
· “thumbs” assessment
· Card signals
· White board demonstrations
· Critical reflection stems
· Student self-evaluation with rubrics/checklists

These websites have additional assessment strategies, along with explanations on how to implement the strategies:

Flluckiger, J., Tixier, Y., Pasco, V.R., Danielson, K. (2010). Formative Feedback: Involving Students as Partners in Assessment to Enhance Learning. College Teaching 58, 136-140.
Heacox, D. Making Differentiation a Habit. Free Spirit Publishing, Minneapolis, MN, 2009.