In an age of standards, using assessment data to differentiate instruction is essential.
At Redlands Elementary School, Ms. Martez's 5th graders are studying the math concept of greatest common factor.1
Following an interactive lesson, students participate in a self-assessment procedure that Ms. Martez has created. Using a car windshield metaphor, she asks,
How many [of you] are clear as glass about how greatest common factor works? How many have bugs on your windshield? How many have windshields covered with mud? (Brimijoin, 2002)
On the basis of their spontaneous self-assessment of “glass, bugs, and mud” and their earlier work on greatest common factor, Ms. Martez assigns students to three follow-up activities. With only a few exceptions, the students' self-assessment matches what Ms. Martez had determined from her pre-assessment.