Summative and Formative Assessment APA Sample

Summative and Formative Assessment
Student’s Name
Institutional Affiliation
Summative and Formative Assessment
Assessment refers to the methods and tools that educators use to evaluate, measure,
and determine the learning progress as well as skill acquisition among students. It plays a
vital role in the education process as it is one of the ways that educators use to improve
student progress and attainment Assessment can be categorized into two main types:
summative and formative. Summative assessment is the most common and refers to the
evaluation of student learning and knowledge and skill acquisition at the end of an
instructional period (Taras, 2008). On the other hand, formative assessment are the evaluation
tools that are used in identifying the struggles and learning gaps that students experience
along the way so as to assess the effective methods that can be used to close these gaps
(Andrade & Cizek, 2010). A combination of these assessments in the curriculum allows
educators to utilize the strengths of each method and hence improve student’s learning
Summative Assessment
Summative assessments are the ones that are commonly used today in educational
curriculums. They include things such as chapter tests, essays, and exams. Educators
administer summative assessments after a certain period of learning with the aim of
understanding how much the students have learned. The educator is the one who carries this
type of assessment and can either chose it to be criterion-referenced or norm-referenced
(Yorke, 2011). Criterion-referenced implies that the summative assessment will compare
student outcomes to that of prescribed learning outcomes that the teacher has set. On the
other hand, norm-referenced means that the teacher will compare student outcomes to that of
The information on how students have performed using summative assessment can be
shared with parents, the school and other education professionals for various purposes
(Hoover & Abrams, 2013). The performance outcomes can allow the better judgments about
the performance of students as compared to set standards as well as measure their
achievements for the purposes of reporting and accountability. Also, educational
professionals can use the student performance outcomes for developing the curriculum to
ensure that student’s learning experience is improved. Indeed, these shows that summative
assessment is an important part of the student learning experience.
Advantages of Summative Assessment
Summative assessment may not be necessarily fun both for the teachers and students.
However, there are several advantages of this form of assessment. First, according to Taras
(2008), summative assessment allows teachers to know what the students have understood for
a particular learning period. Since summative assessment follows strategies for evaluation
such as assignments, exams, and projects, it allows the teachers to make out what the students
have understood about the subject from their performance. Another advantage of this form of
assessment is that they allow teachers to make academic records of students (Looney, 2011).
The teacher records the scores of the students’ performance, and this can be used in the
admission process in other institutions. For example, when records are made for high school
students, colleges can use them to admit the most qualified students based on their
performance in high school. Apart from the two, summative assessment also motivates
students to work harder (Joughin, 2010). Since they measure student performance outcomes
at the end of a particular academic period, summative assessments will make students put
more effort into their studies so that they can demonstrate that they have understood the
Other advantages of summative assessment include identification of weak areas by
teachers, offers valuable insights into instructional design and assist in the evaluation of the
performance of an educator. Summative assessment allows teachers to find weak areas by
looking at results that are steadily low in certain areas. The teachers can then decide to utilize
alternative methods that will likely improve the results. Also, summative assessment offers
valuable insights into the instructional design as it allows realization of the effectiveness of a
particular method hence shows areas that need improvement. Finally, with the performance
of students, summative assessment offers supervisors a way in which they can realize how
the teacher or education faculty has performed. In essence, it allows for the accountability of
teachers. All these show that summative assessment has several advantages to the teachers,
students, and education supervisors.
Disadvantages of Summative Assessment
Despite the advantages, summative assessment also has its disadvantages. One of the
main disadvantages is that teachers will focus on teaching the students how they can pass the
exams instead of allowing them to understand the content of a particular subject. In fact,
according to the article “Too many teachers ‘teaching to the test,’” many teachers have come
under pressure to focus to the teaching of the test rather than focusing on student’s
understanding of the subject (Jozefkowicz, 2006). The main reason for such a scenario is that
many schools focus on exam performance as a way of evaluating student’s academic levels
and this does not inspire learning after students have completed school. Thus, though
summative assessment allows measurement of student performance either through criterion-
referenced or norm-referenced method, they do not always paint a clear picture of the
understanding of a subject since teachers may have focused on the tests rather than
knowledge and skill acquisition.
Other disadvantages of summative assessment include deviation from the curriculum,
late rectification, and biasness among others. Summative assessment may make teachers
deviate from the curriculum in that they might want to focus on teaching to the test (Bond,
2009). Since performance is the one that is most important in summative assessment, the
teachers may see it necessary to make students understand aspects of the course related to the
tests and this is not in line with the objectives of education of allowing students to gain the
knowledge and skills as well as have a deeper understanding of a particular subject area.
Summative assessment also does not provide sufficient time for rectification (Taras, 2008).
Since it focuses on performance at the end of an academic period, handling the hindrance or
difficulties of the students in particular subject areas might be difficult since the academic
period has ended. Finally, summative assessment may be biased (Taras, 2008). The biasness
can occur mainly because there are limited means of expression and thus non-native speakers
may face language and cultural barriers that may hinder them from understating certain
questions. Additionally, students with disabilities may face pressure due to the testing
Effect of Summative Assessment on Student’s Learning Experience
The advantages and disadvantages of summative assessment imply that it can have
varied influences on student’s learning performance. The positive influence of summative
assessment includes: Encouraging student’s self-reflection, provide detailed and actionable
feedback to students, and promotion of positive motivational beliefs among others. On the
other hand, the negative influences of summative assessment on student’s learning experience
include: having a shallow understanding of content due to focus on studying for tests and
biasness towards students who are non-native speakers since they may not be able to
understand certain questions. As such, it is important for educators to ensure that summative
assessments are in alignments with the goals and objectives as well as the expected outcome
of the instruction.
Formative Assessment
Unlike summative assessment which occurs at the end of a set point in an academic
period, formative assessment occurs during lessons and thus allow teachers to evaluate
student understanding of concepts regularly. Thus, while summative assessment focuses on
the learning outcomes, formative assessment focuses on the learning process (Andrade &
Cizek, 2010). Examples of formative assessment include discussions, personal responses and
reflections, peer/self-assessment, constructive quizzes, and homework assignments among
The information obtained from formative assessments allows teachers to understand
the learning progress of students and hence provide ongoing feedback with the aim of making
students improve their learning. In essence, teachers use formative assessment for continuing
planning of the learning process so as to achieve greater learning achievement (Andrade &
Cizek, 2010). It is ongoing, and this requires the efforts of both the teacher and the student.
The student is responsible for monitoring the learning process, clarifying outcomes and
present evidence to the teacher. On the other hand, the teacher is responsible for informing
the students of their targets, modify instructions when necessary, and involve the students in
the assessments.
Advantages of Formative Assessment
The main advantage of formative assessment is that it allows teachers to assist
students to develop the knowledge and skills about a particular subject. The teachers can
identify the needs of students from self-assessments, peer reviews, and one-on-one
interaction and this offers prompt and relevant feedback that allows students to align
themselves better to achieve the educational goals and objectives (Bennett, 2011). Another
advantage of formative assessment is that it allows for continuous improvements in students’
acquisition of knowledge and skills. Unlike summative assessment, formative assessment
occurs regularly as it is an ongoing process. The feedback is increased since the teacher is
able to detect issues and conceptual errors early and guide the students in the process they
should take (Dunn & Mulvenon, 2009). Other than these two, formative assessment also
achieves successful outcomes for the students. This is because it employs several diagnostic
tools that allow teachers to understand the needs of students who are struggling and offer
assistance to them appropriately.
Other advantages of formative assessment are that it provides a clear picture of the
position that students are in and allows students to set goals and plans on the educational
outcomes that they would like to achieve (Black & Wiliam, 2009). Formative assessment
provides a clear picture of the state of the student in that teachers can use a wide range of
tools and take the time to understand the areas of difficulty for each student. As a result, the
teacher is able to come up with appropriate methods that will allow the students to improve
on the areas that they were once struggling in. With regards to setting goals and plans,
teachers may assist students to improve based on pre-set goals and plans that cover the
subject area. As a result, students will be able to have a better understanding of the subject at
Disadvantages of Formative Assessment
There are several disadvantages of formative assessment. First, the process is usually
a time-consuming and tiring process. Rather than occurring at a particular time in an
academic period, formative assessment may occur daily, weekly, or monthly hence becoming
time and resource intensive (Marzano, 2011). In fact, when using formative assessment, some
teachers complain that they sacrifice a lot of time in the assessment process and this fear that
they may not be able to finish the lesson. Another disadvantage of formative assessment is
that it is low stake compared to summative assessment as causing the risk of students not
taking it seriously (Marzano, 2011). Since summative assessment is the main form used to
prove student understanding based on performance outcomes, students may not take it
seriously and only focus on exams and tests at the end of the academic period since this is the
way that they will be gauged. Finally, formative assessment requires teachers to be highly
trained and qualified, and this may not be the case for all teachers (Qu & Zhang, 2013). As a
result, some teachers may employ formative assessment and end up not achieving the desired
Effect of Formative Assessment on Student’s Learning Experience
Though formative assessments are low stakes compared to summative assessment,
they usually have more positive impacts on the learning experience of students. Based on the
advantages of formative assessment it is evident that it allows students to know their
strengths and weakness about a particular subject area and hence the teacher is able to assist
them in target areas. Also, the formative assessment allows the teachers to promptly
recognize areas where the students are struggling and hence address these problems
immediately. Finally, since teachers do not grade formative assessment, students are able to
be less anxious. Rather, they feel relaxed since they know that the assessment serves as
practice to allow them to get assistance before the final exams. The main downside of
formative assessment to student’s learning experience is that students may not take the
assessment seriously since it has low to no point value. Thus, teachers need to ensure that
they encourage students to actively engage in self-assessment so as to allow for prompt and
appropriate feedback that will allow them to improve their skills and knowledge retention in a
particular subject area.
Both summative and formative assessments are important tools in the learning
process. These days, summative assessment has been favored and is the one that is used to
measure student outcomes at a particular period in the academic calendar. These assessments
are graded and hence allow teachers to measure the educational based on performance either
using the criterion-referenced or norm-referenced method. On the other hand, formative
assessment is low stakes and is an ongoing process that aims to understand the areas that
students are struggling in and address them promptly. They are usually not graded but are
instrumental in allowing teachers to provide prompt and appropriate feedback to allow
students to improve their knowledge and skill acquisition in certain areas. Therefore, for
improving student learning experiences, it is important for teachers to combine both
summative and formative assessment so as to obtain the strengths of each method.
Andrade, H., & Cizek, G. J. (Eds.). (2010). Handbook of formative assessment. Routledge.
Bennett, R. E. (2011). Formative assessment: A critical review. Assessment in Education:
Principles, Policy & Practice, 18(1), 5-25.
Black, P., & Wiliam, D. (2009). Developing the theory of formative assessment. Educational
Assessment, Evaluation and Accountability (formerly: Journal of Personnel
Evaluation in Education), 21(1), 5.
Bond, L. (2009). Teaching to the test. The Carnegie Foundation for the Advancement of
Teaching. Retrieved June, 22, 2009.
Dunn, K. E., & Mulvenon, S. W. (2009). A critical review of research on formative
assessment: The limited scientific evidence of the impact of formative assessment in
education. Practical Assessment, Research & Evaluation, 14(7), 1-11.
Hoover, N. R., & Abrams, L. M. (2013). Teachers' instructional use of summative student
assessment data. Applied Measurement in Education, 26(3), 219-231.
Joughin, G. (2010). The hidden curriculum revisited: a critical review of research into the
influence of summative assessment on learning. Assessment & Evaluation in Higher
Education, 35(3), 335-345.
Jozefkowicz, E. (2006). Too many teachers 'teaching to the test'. the Guardian. Retrieved 21
February 2018, from
Looney, J. W. (2011). Integrating formative and summative assessment: progress toward a
seamless system?.
Marzano, R. J. (2011). Formative assessment & standards-based grading. Solution Tree
Qu, W., & Zhang, C. (2013). The Analysis of Summative Assessment and Formative
Assessment and Their Roles in College English Assessment System. Journal Of
Language Teaching & Research, 4(2).
Taras, M. (2008). Summative and formative assessment: Perceptions and realities. Active
learning in higher education, 9(2), 172-192.
Yorke, M. (2011). Summative assessment: dealing with the ‘measurement fallacy’. Studies in
Higher Education, 36(3), 251-273.

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