As teachers, we are charged with the duty of reaching a whole class of students. Some are high level functioning and others not. This does not however allow us to choose one or the other. Our lessons must reach both. This is the real challenge in education. The textbooks our districts buy included scaffolding suggestions in the margin. Some have elaborate supplemental books to teaching the varying levels in our classrooms. Still, it’s no easy task. You always run the risk of leaving some kids out. I think assessment on a uniform scale is a must these days. For example, at my school we use Accelerated Reader. This program has a subset inside called the “STAR” Reading and Math test. This is a good program, again as I’ve said before, no program is perfect. This one use the same criteria over and over as many times as the kid takes the test to determine grade level equivalency.
Although there are only a few cognitive flags measured, these tests are consistent as done by computer. They also rely on valuable years of research to measure levels. Doing them multiple times during the year measures growth. We send the official printouts home this time in the year. This is to show the parents how the child is and identify some strengths and weaknesses. You may have benchmark tests from a previous year on your shelf. Those would also be great to use. For ease of access and “clout” for the parents, the well researched Renaissance Place, or STAR tests are a fairly good option. This way, we have a record of what the child did with “value added growth” rather than just a percentage correct. I’ve always believed school should be about getting better, not necessarily getting 100%. If a child is improving, you can work with that. If not, you can set up interventions. Regular uniform assessment and data analysis are the best way, in my opinion, to deal with multiple levels in a classroom.