Formative and Summative

By: Miranda Tripses

Assessment is a huge topic that encompasses everything from statewide accountability tests to district benchmarks or interim tests to everyday classroom tests.

Summative Assessment

Given periodically to determine at at particular point in time what student know and do not know.

Some examples of Summative Assessments are:

  • State assessments
  • District benchmark or interim assessment
  • End-of-unit or chapter tests
  • End-of-term or semester exams
  • Scores that are used for accountability of schools (AYP) and students (report card grades).
The key is to think of summative assessment as a means to gauge , at a particular point in time, student learning relative to content standards.
Because they are spread out and occur after instruction every few weeks, months, or once a year, summative assessment are tools to help evaluate the effectiveness of programs, schools improvement goals, alignment or curriculum, or student placement in specific programs.


Part of the instructional process. When incorporated into classroom practice, ir provides the information needed to adjust teaching and learning while they are happening.
Formative assessment helps teachers determine next steps during the learning process as the instruction approaches the summative assessment of student learning.
Another distinction that underpins formative assessment is student involvement. If students are not involved in the assessment process, formative assessment is not practices or implemented to its full effectiveness.
Research shows that the involvement in and ownership of their work increases students' motivation to learn.
One of the key components of engaging students in the assessment of their own learning is providing them with descriptive feedback as they learn. Research shows descriptive feedback to be the most significant instructional strategy to move students forward in their learning.
There are many classroom instructional strategies that are part of the repertoire of good teaching. Formative assessment is pedagogy and clearly cannot be separated form instruction.

Criteria and goal setting:

With students engages them in instruction and the learning process by creating clear expectations.

Questioning strategies:

should be embedded in lesson/ unit planning.

Self and Peer Assessment:

Helps to create a learning community within a classroom.

Student record keeping:

Helps students better understanding their own learning as evidenced by their classroom work.

Balancing Assessments

In order to better understand student learning, teachers need to consider information about the products students create and tests they take, observational notes, and reflections on the communication that occurs between teacher and students or among students.