Summative assessments are any method of evaluation performed at the end of a unit or term, allowing teachers to measure a student’s understanding against standardized criteria.

They usually result in the student receiving a determined grade, either a letter grade or numbered level, that tells the student how well they perform academically. Teachers can also use these results to evaluate their teaching methods’ success and see if they need to be adjusted the next time they teach that unit.

So, summative assessments are one-off testing designed to determine what a child knows at the end of a learning period – a unit, term, or chapter. They happen at specific times and are not ongoing. The year 6 SATs are an example of a summative assessment. Children’s comprehensive knowledge of the curriculum is tested in a series of tests in English reading, grammar, punctuation, spelling, and maths. Other famous examples of summative assessments include A-levels and GCSEs.

Formative Assessments Vs. Summative Assessments:

One of the most significant differences between formative and summative assessments is the time frame. Summative assessments are always at the end and are a one-off test or assignment, whereas formative assessments are on-going and can happen as often as a teacher feels appropriate for their class.

This means that summative assessments tend to be more formal than formative ones. Formative assessments need to be casual for students to participate fully. Still, summative assessments require clear expectations and a timeline as to when they will happen to ensure students have the best chance possible to succeed.

Origins of Summative Assessments

Summative assessments have been used in various forms since the invention of schools. However, they now have an even more critical emphasis as GCSEs and A-Levels can help students progress to the next level of education or career.

They have always been a part of education because they allow teachers to determine whether their students have been making adequate academic progress and are meeting their targets.

Types of Summative Assessment:

Summative assessments don’t have to be super severe exams because they don’t always show off everyone’s skills. Here are examples of different kinds of summative assessments:

  • Written Assessments – This may be an original piece of creative writing, narratives, or an analytical essay. Anything that allows students to show off their understanding of a topic in a large written format.
  • Performance Assessments – Interactive tasks and activities allow students to showcase their abilities. These are particularly useful for performance-based subjects such as drama and music
  • Standardized Assessments – Exams against a rubric
  • Oral Assessments – getting students to give speeches and presentations
  • A final project or portfolio may include getting students to make something or put a collection together to show off their understanding of a topic.

Benefits of Summative Assessments:

The most apparent use of summative assessments is that they give final grades; this means that both the teacher and the student know exactly what level they are working at. In addition, these can have other uses

Summative assessments like exams and closed-book essays ensure students retain essential information from the unit or chapter.

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