Summative assessments |

Summative assessments are used to assess student learning, skill acquisition, and academic achievement at the end of a defined instruction period, typically at the end of a project, unit, course, semester, program, or school year. In general terms, summative assessments are defined by three main criteria:

Tests, assignments, or projects are used to determine if students have learned what they were expected to learn. In other words, what makes an evaluation "summative" is not the design of the test, assignment or self-assessment, per se, but the way it is used, ie to determine if and to what extent Students have learned the material They have been taught.

Summative assessments are given at the end of a specific instructional period and are therefore generally evaluative and non-diagnostic, that is, used more appropriately to determine progress and achievement of learning, to evaluate the effectiveness of educational programs , Or make placement decisions of courses, among other possible applications.

Summative assessment results are often recorded as scores or grades that are then taken into account in the student's permanent academic record, whether they end up as letter grades in a report card or test scores used in the process Admission to university. Although summative assessments are often an important component of the qualification process in most districts, schools and courses, not all assessments considered as summative are classified.

Summative assessments are compared to formative assessments, which compile detailed information that educators can use to improve student instruction and learning while it is happening. In other words, it is often said that formative assessments are for learning, while summative evaluations are for learning. Or as the expert Paul Black said: "When the cook knows the soup, it is a formative evaluation. When the customer knows the soup, that is summative evaluation." However, it should be noted that the distinction between formative and summative is often diffused in practice, and educators may have differing interpretations and opinions on the subject.

Some of the most well-known and widely discussed examples of summative assessments are standardized tests administered by states and test organizations, usually in mathematics, reading, writing, and science. Other examples of summative evaluations are:

  • End-of-unit or chapter tests.
  • End of course or semester tests.

Standardized tests used for purposes of school accountability, college admissions (for example, SAT or ACT) or end-of-course assessment (eg, Advanced Placement or International Baccalaureate exams).

Culminating learning demonstrations or other forms of "performance assessment," such as student workbooks that are collected over time and are evaluated by teachers or capital projects that students work for extended periods of time And who present and defend at the end of a school year or their secondary education.

Although most summative assessments are given at the end of an instructional period, some summative evaluations can still be used in a diagnostic manner. For example, increasing availability of student data, made possible by online classification systems and databases, can give teachers access to the results of previous years' assessments or other courses. By reviewing these data, teachers may be able to identify students most likely to struggle academically in certain subjects or with certain concepts. In addition, students may be allowed to take several summative tests several times, and teachers may use the results to help prepare students for future administration of the test.

It should also be noted that districts and schools may use "intermediate" or "benchmark" tests to monitor students' academic progress and determine if they are in the process of mastering the material that will be tested in end-of-course or standardized tests. . Some educators consider that provisional tests are formative, since they are often used diagnostically to inform changes in instruction, but others may be considered summative. There is ongoing discussion in the education community about this distinction, and interim evaluations can be defined differently from place to place. See the formative evaluation for a more detailed discussion.

While it is true that educators have been using "summative evaluations" in various forms since the invention of schools and teaching, summative assessments in the last decades have become components of school improvement efforts. As always, summative assessments can help teachers determine if students are making adequate academic progress or meet expected learning standards and the results can be used to inform modifications to instructional techniques, lesson designs Or teaching materials the next time a course, or lesson is taught. However, perhaps the largest changes in the use of summative assessments have resulted from state and federal policies aimed at improving public education, specifically high-level standardized tests to make important decisions about schools, teachers, and students.

While there is little disagreement among educators about the necessity or usefulness of summative assessments, discussions and disagreements tend to focus on equity and efficacy issues, especially when the results of summative assessment are used for high-risk purposes. In these cases, educators, experts, reformers, policy-makers and others can discuss whether assessments are being designed and used properly, or whether high-risk tests are beneficial or detrimental to the educational process. For more detailed discussions on these topics, see the high stakes test, measurement error, test accommodations, test bias, inflation score, standardized test, and value-added measures.

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