Summative Assessments

March 23, 2021

As we enter the next cycle of assessment at LPSS, many of you may be wondering, why does my child spend a great deal of time doing assessments?

Day-to-day, in school we use two types of assessment: formative and summative. Both types have advantages and disadvantages and today we are going to look at summative assessments in more detail.

So, what is a summative assessment? The aim of a summative assessment is to evaluate student’s learning at the end of an instructional unit, by comparing it against some standards or benchmarks. Summative assessments are often called high stakes tests, which means sometimes they are weighted to represent a final grade or mark for a particular unit or course.

A summative assessment gives a student a level (usually numerical) and placement, which can be compared against other students and the standards for their year level. This can provide motivation for students to study and pay attention in class, particularly as they progress through the education system and grades become a major indicator of success in university or the working world. They also give great insight to teachers: if none of the students in a class score particularly well, this could be due to a gap in the teaching of the unit.

Precisely because summative assessments reflect so closely on teacher performance, many teachers are accused of “teaching to the test.” In other words, if a test is known to heavily favour particular content of the curriculum, students may be asked to spend hours practicing only that content, instead of reading around the content and broadening their knowledge and understanding. With this thought in mind at LPSS, we construct our summative assessments with these aims in mind, they should be:

  1. Accompanied with appropriate time and task management
  2. Achievable as in-class activities and out-of-class assignments
  3. Active involvement in planning, preparation, and performance
  4. Applicable to academic standards and expectations
  5. Appropriate to your students’ learning styles, needs, and interests
  6. Attractive to your students on an individual and group level
  7. Authentic to curricular content and context

However, the main advantage of summative assessments is that they can give immediate feedback to both the teacher and student to determine if they actually understand the material being assessed. This can be further enhanced after reviewing the results of the assessment and interpretation of the data. The results may prove that the courses are helping learners accomplish their learning objectives, or they may show that the learner needs a little help understanding specific subjects.

No assessment is perfect, so even students with excellent knowledge of the material may run into questions that trip them up, especially if they get nervous under pressure. As a result, summative assessment is not always the most accurate reflection of learning and should be used along with formative assessment to build a better picture of the students understanding and level of retention of knowledge.

Leave a reply

Leave Your Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *