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Among a range of options available for teachers to assess students and measure their progress, most of such assessments follow under two categories: summative, or formative.
A formative assessment is the type of measuring took that is done progressively. It is ongoing, and based on informal techniques such as observation, one-on-one communication with the student, review activities, editing and revising tasks, and even with journal writing. The purpose of formative assessment is to observe whether there are modifications to be made to the instruction. It also aims to see whether the modifications that have already been made for purposes of instruction are actually working. With formative assessments the teacher gets a closer look at student progress because the teacher can see whether the student is applying skills that help them deduct and problem-solve when they feel confused. In all, formative assessments can be used for record-keeping when determining whether a student is progressing or not.
A summative, or final, assessment is often used to decide whether the student's progression grants promotion to another skill, grade level, or unit. As opposed to formative assessments, the summatives are comprehensive testing tools that gather all the skills that have already been taught to be tested. The basic aim of summative tests is to determine the effectiveness of the instruction overall. While the formative assessment is ongoing and constant, the summative is given at a specific point in time. For example, the Department of Defense Education Activity's Terra Nova test is given by the end of February of each year to students grades 3-5. The questions asked on these tests have to do with mastery of skills that are level-appropriate. The data will determine whether the students have progressed through time in the same criterion or not.
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