Tiering Assignments by Readiness --Anita Thorpe

According to Heacox, “Tiering by learning readiness offers an opportunity to reinforce or reteach a lesson to one group of learners, and to extend or enrich learning for other learners.”
To begin tiering assignments by readiness the teacher uses pre-assessment strategies. This allows the teacher to find, create, or assign students work that is on their level at this point.
  • · The most important assessment when using tiered instruction is the pre-assessment.
  • · Pre-assessment tells us what our students know so that we can begin instruction at that level.
  • · When tiering assignments with readiness level in mind the students can work on the same task…but just in a different way based on their ability.
Heacox suggests that teachers should group students according to their abilities instead of grouping them with varying abilities because the higher students tend to take over and do most of the work when grouped with the lower students.
  • · When tiering for readiness the teacher might use below grade level, at grade level, or above grade level tiers.
  • · There is no set rule for how many tiers you have. The number of tiers will depend on the range of ability levels in your classroom.
  • · Remember that every tier should be equal when it comes to the level of work or fun. Students don’t want to be in the hard tier that has to do extra work.

Heacox said, “Within each group, the students may be doing their assignment alone, with a partner with like learning needs, or with a small group of like learners.”

Differentiated instruction is a way to meet a broad range of academic needs such as English as a second language (ESL) students, gifted and talented students, average students, and special needs students.
And…
Readiness refers to the student’s prior knowledge and also the student’s skill level with the content that is being presented to them.
  • · Some students will need more concrete activities.
  • · Some students (in order to be challenged) will need more abstract activities.
  • · Students will also vary in their need for structure, complexity, pace, and level of independence.
Heacox stressed that tiered assignments are not used for summative assessments. Tiered assignments are for practice not grades. However, tiered assignments do need to be assessed so that the teacher can reassign the students to tiers for the next assignment.
Ways to assess after tiered instruction may include:
  • · Self-evaluation
  • · Checklists
  • · Conferences
  • · Rubrics
  • · Tests
Heacox, D. (2009). Making differentiation a habit. Minneapolis, MN. Free Spirit Publishing.