The differentiated output hierarchy is a systematic, organized approach to support student's active engagement in the general education curriculum. The differentiated output hierarchy supports the concepts defined in differentiated instruction. Differentiated instruction is defined as the planning of curriculum and instruction using strategies that address student strengths, interests, skills, and readiness in flexible learning environments "At it's Core....Differentiation is simply high-quality, thoughtful teaching that builds on our best understanding of how students learn and what teachers can do to maximize each student's learning" (The Common Sense of Differentiation, 2005).
Tomlinson (2000) suggests that differentiated instruction is a way of thinking about teaching and learning. Differentiated Instruction has three primary components Multiple options for taking in information Content Multiple options for making sense of the ideas Process Multiple options for expressing what they know Product "Each section...the Content, Process, and Product must be varied in anticipation of and response to student differences in readiness, interest, and learning needs" (Common Sense of Differentiation, 2005). The differentiated output hierarchy provides a framework for addressing the multiple options for expressing what they know - The Product.
Many students who receive special education supports and services struggle with reading comprehension, written language, organization skills, etc. The hierarchy provides a framework to allow students to show what they know even with these deficits.