Differentiated Assessment: A New Paradigm in Assessment Practices for Diverse Learners

Document Type: Original Article


Senior Lecturer, University Utara Malaysia, Sintok, Kedah, Malaysia


A typical classroom is full of diverse students and not all students are identical in their academic abilities. Students need a variety of options to assimilate information and beget meaning. Differentiated instruction is being widely used in such diverse classrooms as a method which advocates adaptation of instructional practices commensurate with the diverse needs of students. However, when it comes to assessment, teachers are still contingent upon uniform assessment methods for all students in the classroom irrespective of their diverse learning abilities. The assessment practices that overlook the background knowledge of diverse student population are unfair. Varying learning abilities of student’s call for a differentiated method of assessment in the classrooms that ensures that correct assessment of learning is actualized and the report accurately informs teachers what accommodations are to be made in their instructional practices to meet individual need of students. This article attempts to establish that differentiated assessment can be carried out by either lowering the expectations for students with lower ability or by being flexible with assessment methods according to students wants to accurately measure learning. Only when differentiated instructional practices are informed by differentiated assessment practices can a teacher ensure that learning needs of every student in a classroom is met.


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