Leveled Self-Assessment

Students self-assess their level of mastery and identify next steps for learning
162 teachers like this strategy

About This Strategy

In Leveled Self-Assessment, learners use levels of mastery of a given objective, unit, assessment to self assess. The process of having the multiple levels, and thinking about their place within it, helps them to understand where they are at, and where they need to go.  Self assessment around mastery allows learners to identify their skill gaps and strengths, track their progress, and leads, critically in this domain, to their ability to decide on a path change, advocate for support, and set goals. This strategy works for any classroom, with modifications (like emoji self assessment for early elementary).  

Implementation Steps

20 minutes
  1. Create your student-friendly objective or competency standard that learners will self assess on (i.e. I can add fractions with unlike denominators)

  2. Create 3-4 levels of mastery within the objective; these can be content specific (i.e. Level 1:  I can only add fractions with like denominators) or general based on overall feeling (i.e. Level 1: I can't really get started on this!)

  3. Share the levels with learners, so they understand (for some situations, it can even work to put an example of work or understanding at that level - Coaching students through the why and process of self assessment is the most often skipped step

  4. Give learners the time to self assess at many different times, at the beginning of a lesson to set them up to know what they are striving for, at the end to chart their growth and identify next steps, or before an assessment to compare their thinking to the result.  

  5. Go deeper with self-assessment by leading it to goal setting, formal assessment, and peer consultancies, among much more.

Leveled Self-Assessment For Distance Learning

Kelly Kennefick
BetterLesson Instructional Coach

Students can self-assess their understanding or level of comfort with a specific skill during a virtual class meeting or virtual conference.  In addition, students can also self-assess during asynchronous work to provide the teacher with feedback on their levels of understanding and comfort. 

Implementation steps:

  1. Determine what competency standard students will self-assess on.

    • Consider having students self-assess a standard that they have been focusing on independently or that you recently introduced.

  2. Based on the skill, create 4 levels of competency. 

    • Make these specific, such as “Level 1:  I can add fractions with like denominators” to support students to effectively self-assess.

  3. Determine when and how students will submit their self-assessment data, whether they will complete the self-assessment at a certain time (e.g. Friday), during a live session, or asynchronously.

    • For synchronous self-assessments, once students have completed their Self-Assessment, you can have them submit their data via a Zoom Poll, a Socrative Exit Ticket or a Google Form for example. (See more information in the resource section below). For younger students, you might ask them to write their number on a paper they hold in front of the camera.

    • If students are completing the self-assessment asynchronously determine what tool you will use to collect the self-assessment data. Consider using a digital tool, such as Google Forms (see more information in the resource section below) or use your own LMS.

  4. Have students complete the self-assessment.

    • Self-assessing can be challenging for students, so consider sharing work samples for each level prior to students self-assessing. These examples can guide students to effectively self-assess. Consider embedding these within the self-assessment or sharing with students through an LMS or email prior to students completing the self-assessment.

  5. Use the data to tailor your instructional decisions.

    • If many students rate themselves as levels 1-2, consider using your live time for reteaching.

      • If you are unable to meet together, consider creating a video to send to students that reviews the skill. See the “Using Video for Flipped Learning Environments” in the BetterLesson Lab for more information on leveraging videos.

    • Consider using the data to assign differentiated assignments to students based on their level of understanding. 

      • For example, if a student is level 1 consider asking them to join you for office hours and additional practice.

      • For a student who is a level 2 consider using a small group session for additional practice.

      • For a student who is a level 3 consider providing a video and additional practice or an extension activity.

      • For students who are a level 4 assign extension activities or move forward in the curriculum.

    • Overall, use the data to review, reteach, or move forward.

Before Practice

Before students practice teachers should differentiate the supports or tasks learners are doing, based on their leveled self assessment.  

Implementation steps

1. The self assessment here is leveled not based on just language of understanding, but on actual tasks

  • For example:

    • Level 1:  Watch the Video

    • Level 2:  Work with a Partner...et

2. Afterwards, the debrief and reflection can be centered around if the task was at the appropriate level (still a challenge, but not overwhelming)

Special Education Modifcation

Nedra Massenburg
Special Education Specialist

Leveled self-assessments allow students to identify their skill gaps and strengths, track their progress, and leads to their ability to decide on a path change, advocate for support, and set goals.   

Effective leveled self-assessments require teachers to prepare for the bevy of skills they require from students including executive functioning (task initiation, prioritization, working memory, etc.) skills, written expression skills, reading skills, and/or verbal skills.  In order to support students with disabilities who have difficulty in these areas consider the following modifications:


  1. Any leveled self-assessments given to students should strive to mimic the final assessment environment as much as possible.  Thus teachers should provide any test accommodations (read aloud, extra time, reference sheets, etc.) for students with disabilities as they would for a summative assessment.
  2.  Students with disabilities could be provided a similar assessment as their peers with a smaller set of assignment choices or a smaller number of assignments to complete. See the "How to Adapt Your Teaching Strategies to Student Needs" resource in the resource section below for more information.
  3. Explicitly model for students how to accurately self-assess at the end of the assessment.  As an example, a teacher may say  “Now let’s look at my original self-assessment.  I would put myself at level three mastery because I answered every question in levels one and two correctly but only answered half the questions correctly in level three and I didn’t have time to get to any questions in level four.  Now I’m going to put two minutes on the timer for everyone to look at their assessment and rate their level of mastery on their reflection sheet.”


EL Modification

Shannon Coyle
English Learner Specialist

Leveled self-assessments give English learners an opportunity to learn in a scaffolded way how to accurately assess their level of mastery of a topic. Teachers are able to guide learners’ evaluation with real-time data and differentiated activities. 

English learners are required to listen and follow directions as well as read, write, and respond during assessments and activities. In order to support English Learners consider the following modifications:


  1. Ensure leveled assessments are fair accurate assessments of learners. Consider accommodating, modifying, or creating alternative assessments for English learners that aim to distinguish between linguistic and content mastery so their goals may be focused appropriately. Consider partnering with learners’ language specialist. See the "Using Informal Assessment in the Classroom" resource in the resource section below for more information.
  2. Ensure English learners understand the levels. Consider simplified, numeric or color-coded charts or posters on the wall and reference them often. See the "Example Leveled Poster" resource in the resource section below for more information.
  3. Ensure English learners understand all directions for activities in their level before beginning to work e.g., ask for learners to restate directions. If the activities are new to learners, consider previewing or partnering with learners’ language specialist to preview for learners at lower levels of proficiency.

  4. Perform 1:1 check-ins with English learners. Use independent work time to give English learners an opportunity to use their academic language, and teachers a chance to formatively assess content language use, to guide self-assessment and redirect to more appropriate levels as needed.

  5. Provide English learners with familiar reference sheets such as graphic organizers, word banks, sentence stems, formula sheets, etc., to use as needed during activities.

  6. Provide comprehensible content in activities that require learners to read-to-learn. Consider providing home language content as available during independent or technology-based activities. When available, home language content can be a powerful tool in developing and progressing skills. See the "Research and Bilingual Content Resources for English Learners" resource in the resource section below for more information.

Coach Tips

Daniel Guerrero
BetterLesson Instructional Coach

In a leveled self-assessment, the focus often turns to the action of students actually picking their level.  However, spend some time with them before they actually pick having them try and identify what the levels might be first.  This builds understanding and investment in the levels themselves over time.

Tech Tool


  • Plickers is a tech tool that lets teachers collect real-time formative assessment data without the need for student devices. Students are handed cards with a different symbol on each side. Each side represents one out of 4 possible answers. The teachers scans the group with a smartphone or a tablet and instantly get data on a specific question.

  • Plickers supports self-assessments by creating the possibility of making them private and less threatening for students than hand signals. Only the teacher can by this method have access to the different groups created and it can encourage students to self-assess more accurately. It also creates automatically a record that teachers can compare to their own formative assessment data to ensure that students are accurately using this practice. It opens the door to 1:1 and group discussions when gaps are identified between self and formative assessments.