Second type of classroom: Formative and Summative Assessment

a)      What benefits are derived from formal, summative, and traditional assessments?  To what extent are the weaknesses of these types of assessment disadvantageous to learning-teaching processes?

b)      Explain the growing support for informal, formative and alternative assessments.  What purposes of assessment are served well by informal, formative and alternative assessments?
Compared with formal, summative, traditional assessments, what levels of learning in Bloom’s hierarchy of cognitive skills are addressed by informal, formative and alternative assessments?

c)      How can you ensure that the formal, summative, and traditional assessments you craft will be good assessments, and as equally effective as a parallel alternative assessment?

d)      Consider the various resource materials for the module in the context of your personal experiences.  How would the type of assessment affect the way students approach learning?  In other words, Will the type of assessment influence:

  • students’ attitudes toward studying for a test?
  • their attitudes about how they learn, what they choose to learn?
  • the way students value a lesson; the way students value going to school?

e)      Much is said in favor of alternative assessments—to the discredit of traditional assessments.  Nevertheless, many acknowledge that there remains a lot of merit in favor of traditional assessments.

  • What are some advantages of traditional assessments over alternative assessments and vice versa?
  • Can traditional tests assess high-order thinking?
  • All factors considered, where does your preference lie—traditional or alternative assessment?  (What type/s of assessment do you recommend for schools to use or put greater emphasis on?)  Why?


a)      Discuss norm-referenced and criterion-referenced assessments in relation to the Bell curve (or vice versa).

b)      How do the concepts in Module 3C (Sub-section 2) relate to one another?  How can you use distribution data to interpret assessment results and make decisions about teaching and future assessments?  Consider the Assessment Cycle when you discuss this question.  Cite specific scenarios or concrete (or actual) examples to elaborate your points.

c)      How may information based on distribution be used to serve the interest of students?  In contrast, how can its application be harmful?

d)      How do we apply these ideas to make sense of assessment data in the broader academic settings (e.g. regional or national tests), i.e., beyond the classroom?  You may cite actual national/international data in your discussion.  Remember to identify your sources.

I’ve tackled in my blog about the first type of classroom assessment which are formal and informal assessment. Now, I’m going to differentiate formative and summative assessment.

Formative assessment as defined in, it is when teachers, educators make use of different tools and methods to gather information about a student’s understanding of a lesson, topic.

Because of interaction between a student and teacher, feedback is usually common in this practice. The feedback enables the teacher to know what the student has learned in the subject. Upon learning the strength and weakness of the student in the subject, the teacher, trainer can adjust her task according to the student’s needs.

Examples of FORMATIVE ASSESSMENT given by

Intended Purpose Assessment for Learning Examples
To increase students’ learning

To adjust instruction
To diagnosis student needs
To improve the instructional program
Non-graded quizzes, pretests, minute papers, exit tickets, written assignments, concept maps, interviews, progress monitoring, performance assessment scoring guides, weekly reports, focused questions, journals, learning logs, learning probes, checklists, surveys, and item analyses of summative assessments

According to, “assessment for learning” or formative assessment makes the student more motivated in his/her studies enabling excellence in school.

Asessment of Learning” or Summative assessment on the other hand are planned activities/excercises used by teachers, faculty in determining the over-all grade, performance of students. It answers the question “what the students have learned?”, “what is this test for?”.

Through standardized test, summative assessment enables the teacher to rank its students in order.

Summative Assessments needs to be reliable, valid, and useful according to Definition below:

  • Useful. The assessment must provide you with useful
    information about student achievement in the course.
    The assessment must be tied to the learning goals you
    have and those learning goals must be important. If you
    assess unimportant or trivial concepts or just use chapter
    tests without really looking at the items critically in terms of
    whether they reflect your teaching, what have you learned
    about what your students know? 4
    ● Valid for your purposes. The assessment must measure what
    it is supposed to measure. For example, if you ask students
    to draw a map reflecting the change in U.S. borders from
    1789-1820, you will need to ensure that the assessment is
    scored based on students’ understanding of the concepts
    not based on their ability to draw. Sometimes, the way the
    test is presented (e.g., small print with lots of complicated or
    confusing directions or too many items) can make it a less
    valid measure of the content being tested. It may be more
    a measure of student persistence than a measure of their
    knowledge of the content. As a teacher, taking a test yourself
    before giving it to your students will help ensure that the items
    reflect content you actually taught. It will also help you to
    decide if there are some aspects of the questions or layout
    that are content irrelevant, representing extraneous hurdles
    for students that could be simplified.
    ● Reliable. Reliability has to do with the extent to which the
    score you give a student on a particular assessment is
    influenced by unsystematic factors. These factors are things
    that can fluctuate from one testing or grading situation to
    the next or from one student to the next in ways that are
    unrelated to students’ actual achievement level (e.g., luck
    in guessing the right answer, lack of time to complete the
    assessment on a particular day, teacher bias or inconsistency
    in scoring of essays across students or from one test to the
    next). Thinking about how to reduce these factors such that
    the scores given are likely to be the most accurate reflection
    of students’ true achievement levels on the task or test should
    be an ongoing process for teachers.
    ● Fair. The assessment must give the same chance of success
    to all students. For example, a large project that is done at
    home can be biased against low-income students, favoring
    students whose parents have extra time to help them over
    those whose parents need to work.


Summative Assessment: What Teachers Need to Know


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