Low Stakes Testing


Differentiated learning is at the core of how I teach.  Not only are my students in several different grade levels, each works at a different pace.  Because our classroom is small, I can give each child more attention than they would normally get in an overcrowded public school.  I differentiate in two main ways:

  1. I assign projects that are open ended and grade based on what the student is capable of and how much effort they put into the project
  2. I individualize assignments based on prior assessments and grade in the traditional way.

In order to have prior assessment data for correct placement, we will be doing some “low stakes testing” the first week or two of school to see where each student is academically based on state standards.  It’s been my experience that gifted kids excel in some areas and have gaps in others, so it’s not as simple as assigning a grade level.  Some preliminary testing will give us a clear picture of what needs to be taught.

The strategy for individualizing assignments will vary for each class.  If the majority of the class tests in the same ballpark, I’ll keep everyone together.  If a small group of students needs the same skill, I’ll do ability grouping.  If an individual student or two lacks a specific skill, I can work with them while the other students are engaged in an independent activity, or I may assign additional assignments as homework.

My goal is to fill in all the knowledge holes during the 3rd and 4th grade years so that when they reach 5th grade they will all be on the same page.