Compare formative with summative assessment. What is the difference between them? 

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Ashley Kannan eNotes educator| Certified Educator

The original question had to be edited.  The process of using formative and summative assessments are critical to gauge student learning and progression in a particular concept.  Both are important and both can be used in a strategic manner to read where students are and where they need to be.  In analyzing the purposes and ends of both, one sees the differences between them.

In the formative assessment, teachers are seeing where students are in an ongoing process of learning.  Formative assessments are not as stringent as summative assessments.  They can be informal or formal, but they are administered in the course of ascertaining comprehension of a topic.  An "exit slip" has become one of the most common and used forms of a formative assessment.  Simple question and answer, call and response discussion can also be a formative assessment.  Quizzes or teacher constructed exams can also be seen as formative assessments.  The formative assessment is ongoing, and enables the teacher to see where challenges exist and if instruction is effective.  It is as close to a "real- time" read of where students are and where they need to be.  It also assists teachers in redirecting instruction if problems arise.

In the summative assessment, the end point of instruction on a concept has been reached.  A summative assessment is an assessment typically administered at the conclusion of a particular lesson.  The summative assessment is designed to see where instruction was successful and how students progressed in a concept.  Ideally, the modifications and interventions in the summative assessment phases have "paid off" in the formative assessment.  The formative assessment demonstrates where students are in the full instruction spectrum of a topic.  There is a weight attached to the summative assessment that has broad implications for a student and their learning progression.

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ewynnejones | Student


check out this site - Dylan Wiliam promotes the value of formative assessment as key to learning. Definitely worth investigating