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Tiered Instruction

To Challenge all Learners

What is Tiered Instruction?

Tiered instruction is a way of teaching one concept and meeting the different learning needs in a group.

Teachers may vary:




Tasks and/or resources vary according to:

learning profile



Who is Tiered Instruction best for?

  • Below level learners
  • On level learners
  • High level learners

Why Tiered Instruction?

For Best Practices tiered instruction is fundamental because:

each student is appropriately challenged.

the focus is on the concept as opposed to focusing on learning differences.

it maximizes learning.

What are the steps for tiered instruction?

There are 5 major points to tiering instruction:

Choose a concept from Standards that students should know or understand and choose whether to tier according to readiness, interest, or learning profile.

Assess student’s profile, readiness, and/or interest.

Create an activity or project that is clearly focused on the concept.

Adjust the activity to provide different levels of difficulty.

Match students to appropriate tiered assignment.

We all start on a different level!

We all have different needs

Tiered Chocolate Activities
for Active Participation

  • ALLOW 15 Minutes
  • At your table, there is an envelope with 6 different activities, centered around the key concept “Attributes of Chocolate”.
  • Take a moment to make sure you all know what is in the envelope and then divide the cards so everyone at your table has a different activity.
  • Take two minutes to complete your activity independently. You may write directly on the card.
  • After 2 minutes…..
  • Move to assigned groups to compare your work to others who worked on the same activity. Before we conclude, tables will share out responses. (Designate where in the room each group will meet to share their common activity.)
  • Share out several responses.
  • Sample questions for whole group:
  • Did any of you work on an activity with which you weren’t comfortable?
  • Is it ok for teachers to assign a tiered activity to a student? Why or why not?
  • What would a teacher do if he/she realized they had assigned the inappropriate level of work to a student?
  • What if a student does something totally unrelated to the attributes of chocolate?


What if a student does something totally unrelated to the attributes of chocolate?

In designing a Standards-based tiered lesson:

  • Start with grade-level standards, concepts or skills
  • Modify the content into two to three progressive levels of depth and complexity
  • Differentiate by process, product, resources or outcome

Research, Interview, Read book, Use Internet….

Perform, create, present, write….


Bloom’s levels of questioning and Gardner’s Multiple Intelligences will help you level process and products.

When using a Teacher’s Edition ask these questions:

  • Does the activity help the student reach the standard?
  • Is the activity basic or advanced?
  • Do the suggested extensions offer more depth and more complexity, or just more work?
  • Are there multiple activities that provided opportunities for tiering the content to support the standard?


Note: Remember that advanced level work needs to be more challenging, NOT just MORE work.

Examples of Tiered Instruction

Find Handouts for different grade levels and subjects on TAG website

See Educator Resources


(Use handouts of examples appropriate for participants’ grade level and subject)

How to Assess before using Tiered Instruction 

In Tiered Instruction assessment is used to create the different levels, groups, Scaffold, or tiers.

Find many different methods of pre-assessment on the TAG website under Educator Resources


See Pre-assessment documents on TAG “Educator Resource” web site

Note: for under achievers

Some students achieve high in formal testing, but are not performing to level in class. To help these students begin achieving success again, a few different things to try:

  • Use student interest groups.
  • Allow student choice.


Stop and discuss how these suggestions might effect students’ motivation and level of success

How to Assess after using the Tiered Instruction Technique

The assessment of individual projects, etc. varies with each. You may choose some of the following assessment strategies and more:

Rubrics, tests, checklists, contracts, self-evaluation, peer evaluation, or conferences.


  • General enough to apply to all tiers
  • Key concepts are clear and included
  • The Standard that students need to meet is clear
  • Students understand how the varied activities, resources, products, etc help them demonstrate key concepts or State Standards
  • Make sure the key concepts are

evaluated separately from the

quality criteria


This is just to reiterate the main ideas of rubrics. When developing rubrics for tiered assignments, make sure you use the SAME criteria for all assignments. The rubric is not tiered.

Standards based scoring- Rubrics

  • The Standard that students need to meet is clear.

Key Concepts are included, but general enough to apply to all tiers.

Regardless of assignment, activity (or “tier”) students understand how their work demonstrates the standard.

  • Quality, Effort, or Career Related Learning Standards (CRLS)

Criteria for Quality of Product, Measured Effort, or CRLS is separate from the evaluation of proficiency in meeting the standard.

Neat, Organized, ON-Time work is recognized, but not directly tied to meeting the Standard.


Standards-based scoring of a differentiated activity can be fairly easy to evaluate. Make sure the criteria for showing knowledge of the key concepts are clear, and give the same value for each individual assignment that follows the criteria.

Quality Criteria are listed and evaluated so that students know their work needs to meet quality standards.

Keep CONTENT evaluations and QUALITY evaluations separate.

Additional Resources for
Tiered Assignments

  • Differentiating Instruction in the Regular Classroom by Diane Heacox
  • How to Differentiate Instruction in the Mixed-Ability Classroom by Carol Ann Tomlinson
  • Tiering Assignments & Compacting Curriculum: It’s for Everyone! By Lynda Rice


These books are available for check-out from the TAG Office. Contact your TAG Coordinator.

Look in Educator Resources

  • on the TAG website

How it Works

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Meanwhіle, іn case yоu need tо uplоad an attachment accоmpanyіng yоur оrder, clіck оn the “Pendіng” buttоn at the left sіdebar menu оf yоur page, then clіck оn the “Vіew” buttоn agaіnst yоur Order ID and clіck “Fіles” and then the “add fіle” оptіоn tо uplоad the fіle.

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Payment Prоcess

By clіckіng ‘PRОCEED TО CHECKОUT’ yоu wіll be lоgged іn tо yоur accоunt autоmatіcally where yоu can vіew yоur оrder detaіls. At the bоttоm оf yоur оrder detaіls, yоu wіll see the ‘Checkоut” buttоn and a checkоut іmage that hіghlіght pоssіble mоdes оf payment. Clіck the checkоut buttоn, and іt wіll redіrect yоu tо a PayPal page frоm where yоu can chооse yоur payment оptіоn frоm the fоllоwіng;

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