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Assessment and Differentiation. Timothy Shanahan University of Illinois at Chicago. Instructional differentiation. Adjustments to instruction that are made in order to increase learning for different children (made on the basis of need or circumstances). Instructional differentiation.

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Assessment and Differentiation

Timothy Shanahan

University of Illinois at Chicago


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Instructional differentiation

  • Adjustments to instruction that are made in order to increase learning for different children (made on the basis of need or circumstances)


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Instructional differentiation

  • Four kinds of adjustment:

    --Content coverage

    --Amount of teaching provided

    --Level of instruction

    --Intensity of instruction


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Reasons for Differentiation

  • One size definitely doesn’t fit all when it comes to teaching

  • Universal lessons for an entire classroom of kids is the most efficient delivery system (unless one considers learning)


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Reasons for Differentiation

  • Kids miss out on some instruction

  • Kids don’t succeed with the instruction that is given

  • Kids are at very different levels of performance

  • Kids learn at different rates


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Role of Assessment

  • Differentiation implies decisions

  • If you are going to raise achievement, then you need to make the right decisions

  • This leads to the use of assessment (data on student learning on which to make decisions about differentiation)


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Some basic assessment terminology

  • Validity: estimate of how well a test measures what it claims to measure


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Some basic assessment terminology

  • Reliability: estimate of how stable test scores are (without reliability, can’t have validity)


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Some basic assessment terminology

  • Benchmark: establishing cut scores on a test that have predictive value


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Some basic assessment terminology

  • Efficiency: ratio of benefit to cost (how much information do you get for the amount of resources, including time, needed to get the information)


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????

So what data can we use?


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Accountability Assessment

  • Large-scale, standardized assessment data is available (group administered standard tests commercially available or from the state)

  • These tests are often high quality in terms of reliability and validity

  • They tend not to match well with instruction or the instructional calendar (too “expensive” to give more than once or twice a year, and usually not given even that often)



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Informal Reading Inventories

  • These have developed since 1914 (William S. Gray, Emmett Betts)

  • They can provide an assessment of sight vocabulary, phonics, oral reading fluency, and comprehension

  • Used to establish three reading levels (independent, instructional, frustration)

  • Aligned with instruction

  • Take about 30 minutes to an hour to administer

  • Commercial versions



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Running Records

  • Developed in the 1970s (Marie Clay, Ken Goodman)

  • Provide a reading process analysis

  • Identify degree to which students use context and decoding

  • Most useful in Grade 1

  • Can be given frequently, but take ~10 minutes per administration



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Curriculum-Based Assessment

  • These developed since the 1970s (Stan Deno, Roland Good)

  • Can evaluate student performance in any basic skill area

  • Just a dipstick, not an analysis

  • Most useful in Grade 1

  • Can be given frequently, but still take about 2-3 mins. per administration



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Four kinds of differentiation

--Content coverage

--Amount of teaching provided

--Level of instruction

--Intensity of instruction


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Content coverage and Amount of instruction

  • Difficult to separate these

  • Overall low achievement would indicate the need for more time

  • Specific weaknesses would suggest additional time on particular elements

  • Two patterns of poor readers


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Content coverage / time

--Informal reading inventories can guide greater time allocation to sight vocabulary, oral reading fluency, and comprehension instruction

--However, their ability to identify decoding problems is limited, and they are likely to overestimate fluency as children get older


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Content coverage/ time

--Running Records can guide greater time allocation to oral reading fluency, decoding, and reading comprehension

--However, they may encourage teaching of context use for decoding, and tend not to alter content coverage (typical response is to change levels, not content)


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Content coverage / time

--CBMs can guide greater time allocation to letters, phonemic awareness, decoding, oral reading fluency

--CBMs only guide alteration of time to basic skills (they are silent on higher level skills, which may discourage teachers from emphasizing these)


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Level of instruction

  • Instruction can be too hard or too easy

  • One way to facilitate learning is to put children at a level where they can make optimum progress

  • Mixed research results on the effectiveness of this

  • Can overdo it to the point that it leads to a reduction in the amount of teaching


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Level of instruction

--Informal reading inventories can guide changes in level of instruction (and can give guidance for independent reading)

--Informal reading inventories usually neglect speed which can lead to overestimates of reading levels—particularly in the upper grades


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Level of instruction

--Running Records can guide changes in level of instruction (particularly within grade 1)

--Running Records are not used much beyond Grade 1, but they likely suffer the same problem that IRIs do in terms of overplacement


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Level of instruction

--CBMs can guide changes in level of instruction (not clear what this means overall)

--With the exception of fluency, basic skills don’t have clear gradations in levels of instruction, so CBMs don’t provide a specification of what is needed within the category


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Intensity of instruction

  • Increased attention

  • Increased interaction

  • Increased repetition and guidance


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Intensity of instruction

--Informal reading inventories are unlikely to guide changes in intensity (except grossly)


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Intensity of instruction

--Running Records are unlikely to guide changes in intensity (except grossly)


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Intensity of instruction

--CBMs can guide changes in intensity of teaching because of the levels of performance identified


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What is needed?

  • Assessments of key components

  • Schedule or plan for assessment

  • Group decisions

  • Ability to move resources


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What is missing?

  • Even more frequent attention to learning success

  • Need for frequent observation within instruction

  • Assessment cards


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Thank you very much!

Timothy Shanahan

University of Illinois at Chicago


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