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Assessment Strategies

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Uncle Sam, behind high wall marked “Literacy Test” which is spiked with pen points,

says to immigrant family below: “You’re welcome, if you can climb it”.


Measuring what students know and are able to do is critical to effective teaching. On this page, we feature strategies that enable educators to gauge learning throughout a lesson, and to differentiate instruction and assessment to meet the needs of diverse learners, including students with disabilities.

Assessment FOR Learning & Stages of Assessment

Educators have increasingly emphasized that assessment should be viewed as a tool for improving and enhancing learning, rather than a static outcome measure. Gathering information about what students know should take place at the beginning of a unit or lesson (pre-assessment), at intervals throughout the unit or lesson (formative assessments), as well as at the end (summative assessment). A valuable presentation of the fundamental principles of assessment that is geared to teaching learners with diverse learning styles is presented in an instructional guide for the Department of Youth Services in Massachusetts (Chapter 9: Assessment, pages 267-280 in U.S. History II: Teaching Social Studies in Massachusetts Department of Youth Services Schools, 2011 Edition).

Backward Design

1. Identify desired results; 2. Determine acceptable evidence; 3. Plan learning experiences and instruction

Bowen, Ryan S., (2017). Understanding by Design. Vanderbilt University Center for Teaching. Retrieved 21 Dec 2018 from

Principles Guiding Assessment

diagram showing Worth being familiar with (big circle), Important to know and do (subset), and Enduring Understanding (core subset, smallest circle) From Bowen, Ryan S., (2017). Understanding by Design. Vanderbilt University Center for Teaching.

Standards (Skills and Main Content Ideas)

  • Literacy Assessments – Aligning to literacy standards. 
  • Skills Assessments – Aligning to inquiry practice standards.
  • Content Assessments – Aligning to content standards


Authentic assessment

“as close as possible to real-world applications”

Assessment Tools


  • Fist to five – quick check in
  • Matching activity for knowledge and vocabulary
  • Quick Write / Write into the Day
    • Complete sentence stems about the topic and/or key vocabulary
  • Google Forms
  • Complete a graphic organizer to show extent of prior knowledge
    • What we think we know about:

Formative Assessment  

Formative assessments provide a snapshot of how well students have understood the material.  

  • Fist to five – quick check in
  • Quick Write / Write into the Day
  • 3-2-1 Formative
  • Exit Tickets
  • GoFormative
  • Kahoot
  • PollEverywhere
  • Google Forms
  • Creating a cartoon

Summative Assessment


Emerging America built this digital resource to provide ongoing support for K-12 teachers of history, social studies, and humanities to challenge and nurture struggling learners. Sign up for the fully online Accessing Inquiry for Students with Disability through Primary Sources course.

Elements of the Accessing Inquiry Strategies resource

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