Episode 2 – Diagnostic Assessment

In this episode, I discuss how I use diagnostic assessment to inform and differentiate my practice. I focus on the need to find out what your students already know so that you can design the learning path ahead to achieve the learning goals. Listen to the audio above or read the summary below.

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Diagnostic Assessments by Daniel Jackson is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-ShareAlike 4.0 International License.

Common diagnostic assessments

  • Diagnostic information from your learning support or special education faculty.
  • You could use results from the year before or last term
  • Often people use results from NAPLAN in Australia or your equivalent numeracy and literacy state testing.


It doesn’t have to be complicated

  • It can be as simple as playing a game of Kahoot, or completing a short quiz on Google forms, Quizlet, Socrative or Quizziz.
  • I love starting a unit by giving the students some prompts around the topic we are about to start and have them video themselves telling me anything they know related to the topic.
  • Some great tools for this are: SeeSaw, WeVideo, a simple camera on any device or something like Screencastify
  • This task does not have to take long, BUT it must be used!
  • I really don’t like teaching to increase test results, BUT that doesn’t mean that testing cannot serve a purpose or help you to provide better and more effective teaching and learning for your students.
  • There is a huge problem if these simple quizzes do not affect your teaching and learning activities. That would be testing just for the sake of testing, which is a massive disservice to our students and will not help them love learning.
  • These tests should be short and fun with the goal of providing you with an insight into what your students do and don’t know so that you can differentiate your learning design

This is important BECAUSE

  • If you don’t change your teaching then they are going to either find what you do with them too easy or too hard and both students will not learn how to learn or learn the skills needed to learn on their own.
  • Instead, they will sit at the back of the class and disengage from the lesson, unit or even the subject as a whole.

Use the diagnostic results

  • If your diagnostic testing is not used, you are bad a teacher as the person who doesn’t give them in the first place.
  • Without some form of diagnostic check on where your students are at, you cannot properly set them challenging, yet achievable learning goals, or design the learning process to achieving those goals.
  • As teachers, we need to know where our students are in order to design the path forward for them to achieve their goals and the learning goals for each subject
  • I love creating class profiles and including as much information about my students as possible.
  • This includes any diagnostic test results from the learning support unit and results from previous years of testing.
  • I love getting them to create videos about themselves and their goals, as well as what they actually know.

Your turn

  • Get some diagnostic evidence relating to what your students already know.
  • Identify where they are at in relation to your learning goals and their’s SO that you can adjust your teaching practice to help them achieve the goals.
  • So, if you haven’t yet, gather information from your learning support, and NAPLAN testing results to identify your student’s skills, BUT also do something that is specific to what you are teaching this term. Maybe a simple Kahoot, or a short video explanation based on some questions you provide. It can be anything, but the goal of it is to identify what they already know, and from where you should start to build.
  • It doesn’t have to be much, but it needs to have an effect.

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