Sunday, May 31, 2009

Formative and Summative Assessments

It may be important to define some terms as we continue to discuss assessments. The following definitions are from the article Formative and Summative Assessments in the Classroom by Catherine Garrison and Michael Ehringhaus.

Summative Assessments are given periodically to determine at a particular point in time what students know and do not know. Many associate summative assessments only with standardized tests such as state assessments, but they are also used at and are an important part of district and classroom programs. Summative assessment at the district/classroom level is an accountability measure that is generally used as part of the grading process.

Formative Assessment is part of the instructional process. When incorporated into classroom practice, it provides the information needed to adjust teaching and learning while they are happening. In this sense, formative assessment informs both teachers and students about student understanding at a point when timely adjustments can be made. These adjustments help to ensure students achieve, targeted standards-based learning goals within a set time frame.

For further study, you can read "The Concept of Formative Assessment" by Carol Boston at the Practical Assessment, Research & Evaluation online journal.

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