Overview: Balanced Assessment

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Estimated time: 10 minutes

Audience: parents & families, educators, administrators


To introduce the concept of balanced assessment and its components. A balanced assessment system is important to determine if a student is benefitting from the instruction and what changes might be needed to enhance their education. Specifically, a balanced assessment system helps answer these four questions:

  1. What do we expect all students to be able to know and do?
  2. How do we know if students are meeting the expectations?
  3. What do we do if students are not meeting expectations?
  4. What do we do if students exceed expectations? (DuFour, 1998)

Balanced Assessment, one of the essential elements of the Wisconsin RtI Framework consists of:

  • Universal screening assessments to get an overview of all students and begin the process of determining who needs more support and who may be excelling and need additional challenges.
  • Diagnostic assessments to determine students’ areas of strengths and skills needing further instruction.
  • Progress monitoring to determine whether the student is benefitting from instruction. There are two kinds of assessment used to monitor progress:  

Other important assessment terms: Formative assessment measures progress and guides further learning. Summative assessment measures the outcome of learning.


A video explains the importance of universal screening to learn about the needs of individual children. It is especially important when children are new to the school, move to a different grade level, or start new classes. Universal screening may lead to diagnostic testing to learn specifics about learning needs or can identify instructional gaps.

Link to RtI Concepts and/or Research-based practices

Epstein’s Six Types of Family-School-Community Partnerships: Communication, Decision Making

Wisconsin RtI Framework essential element: Balanced Assessment


View the video Universal Screening and listen for the different purposes for universal screening.  Think about what screening tools your school uses. If you don’t know of any screening tools you may want to contact your school to find out how they make decisions.

Reflection:  How do universal screenings guide teachers to provide better instruction for your child or children?


  1. Universal Screening Video from the National RtI Center (3:26 minutes)

Going Deeper

Additional Activities


Group Activity

Estimated time: 30 minutes

Activity Directions for Groups [pdf]

Additional Handouts for Groups:

  • None