We need to begin to think, visualize, and calculate student development in three dimensions.  We must rethink the very foundations of education and the assessments used to measure student achievement if we are to align efficient and effective instructional practices to our understanding of student needs.  Areas of primary concern in differentiated instruction are the effective use of classroom resources, theories of transfer, motivation, how curriculum is aligned to student needs, how the pace of a student is verified, how student understanding is monitored to determine skill-gaps in their development, etc.
A school should be able to define, with extreme clarity, what the graduating student should know and be able to do.  The school should also implement strategies to influence the character of the student as a way to address "whole-person" needs.  To achieve this, a school should be able to recognize variations in a child's understanding of a myriad of cognitive as well as academic skills. Strategies should be developed to determine how each individual child interprets information through the assessment of individual (cognitive) strengths, with processes to guide instruction to those strengths.
It is essential that numerous assessment strategies are utilized to provide a "whole-person" analysis of student achievement.  Effective strategies for teaching and learning must include specific standards of performance excellence evaluated through the daily routines of the classroom.  Assessments should be designed to illustrate student strengths as well as weaknesses aligned to strategies that are able to redirect instructional efforts and provide targeted interventions to address student needs.  This is achieved by incorporating processes for remedial instruction and interventions systematically tied to student outcomes.  Assessments should align the most appropriate curriculum to specific student needs with an instructional analysis process that is able to quickly determine what works, what doesn't and with whom.  Most importantly, efficient local assessments must allow a determination of student achievement independent of State Standardized testing.
We are introducing Diagnostics (e-DX), an innovative concept that focuses on selected, competency-rich performances over-time.  This is a major shift from the abstract and distorting focus of Standards to actual student performances.  e-DX also seeks to automate the recognition of student needs and learning preferences and the automated application of Individual Educational Planning strategies. e-DX provides opportunities for individualized rates of learning and the social and emotional development that reflects differing rates of development, preferred learning styles, etc.  e-DX also isolates specific patterns of resistance, allowing the recognition and analysis of changes in performance and behavior and making an immediate association to student gains, essential to learning styles analysis.
It is essential a school provides numerous avenues of self-expression and exploration, along with an ability to assign non-traditional meaning based upon the individuality of each student and the factors illustrated above.  To quantifiably assess change (the maturity of a student's thinking process), a school must identify, analyze and measure the countless influences that effect change.  True Educational Reform will not be achieved by how education is administered, but rather by how it is evaluated.