Every one of us has different skills, experiences, abilities, confidence, and interests. For example, some people are really good skiers. Some people can ski the “blue” intermediate hills with no problem. Others are more comfortable skiing the “green” beginner hills. There are also experienced skiers that enjoy challenges and therefore chose the “black” difficult hills.Are the green, blue, and black skiers learning anything different? No, because each student is going to the bottom of the hill, which is the goal. Green is getting used to staying up and balancing. Blue needs more of a challenge because that person can already stay up and has good balance. While a black diamond skier likes to go fast, learn new routes, and enjoys a risk and challenge. If I were to assess you on your skiing skills, I would not assess an experienced skier on a “green” beginner hill because that person would not be challenged. At the same time, I would not assess a beginner skier on a difficult “black” hill because it would not be appropriate and that person would be scared (see graph below). I like to use this analogy with my assessments.
My students will have the opportunity to choose what color test they will take. The options will be the green, blue, and black. Each test will count for the same amount. I will conference with each student, and we will talk about what tier would be appropriate for them. Students do not have to take the same colored test all year. If a student takes a risk and tries the next tier up and does not do well, then they can retake the test on the next tier down without penalty. Students that take the green test will receive a comment on their report card that says, "Grade achieved with modified assessments." Students that take the black level test will received a comment on their report card that says, "Grade achieved at challenge level."I am excited about continuing my classroom efforts to differentiate assessments for the skill level of each student. I welcome questions and feedback on the process.