Summative Assessment vs Formative Assessment

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Let’s compare  formative assessments with summative assessments. In short, formative assessments are used to shape instruction and determine student mastery in an effort to improve student achievement. Summative assessment, however, are administered at the end of a course to determine student mastery overall, basically it is final. Formative assessment is never final. Formative assessments are on-going assessments, reviews, and observations in a classroom.

Teachers use formative assessments to improve instructional methods and student feedback throughout the teaching and learning process. The results of formative assessments are used to modify and validate instruction. For example, if a teacher observes that some students do not grasp a concept, the teacher can design a review activity or use a different instructional strategy. Likewise, students can monitor their own progress with periodic quizzes and performance tasks.

Summative assessments are typically used to evaluate the effectiveness of instructional programs and services at the end of an academic year or at a pre-determined time. They are used to determine if students have mastered specific competencies and to identify instructional areas that need additional attention. The goal of such summative assessments is to make a judgment of student competency – after an instructional phase is complete.

Summative assessment vs formative assessment

Characteristic FORMATIVE Assessment SUMMATIVE Assessment
Purpose Provide ongoing feedback to improve learning Document student learning at the end of an instructional segment
Student Involvement Encouraged Discouraged
Student Motivation Intrinsic, mastery-oriented Extrinsic, performance-oriented
Teacher Role To provide immediate, specific feedback and instructional correctives To measure student learning and give grades
Assessment Techniques Informal Formal
Effect on Learning Strong, positive, and long-lasting Weak and fleeting

How do you incorporate both Summative and Formative Assessments in your classroom?

From Professional Learning Board’s online continuing education course for teachers: Formative Assessment

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