Assessment: Formative vs. Summative

There are formative and summative approaches to assessing academic skills (3). An assessment is formative if it yields information related to the actual or desired performance of the student AND the information can be used to target instructional goals AND to make instructional changes. Formative assessment versus summative assessment is ultimately about the purpose for which the assessment is used. In the context of the classroom, formative assessment is part of instruction process. Formative assessment data can be used to determine if the student is making academic progress and to identify needs (3).

The concept of progress monitoring is based on the theory and principles of formative assessment (4).

The formative assessment process involves:

  • frequent measurement (weekly, monthly)
  • reviewing of data to determine the effectiveness of program components
  • making changes as needed.

Summative assessment is generally defined as an assessment that reflects a summary of student performance. Summative assessment is usually done at a single point of time, e.g. at the end of a learning unit or school year (4). The summative assessment process does not permit teachers to make an instructional or program change that could improve the student’s performance. Summative assessments are frequently used as end of unit tests or high stakes testing e.g., Minnesota Comprehensive Assessment (MCA-II).



The content on this page is from: Rose, S. & McAnally, P. Education resources for teachers of Deaf/Hard of Hearing students.