K-12 Teaching and Learning From the UNC School of Education


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Related pages

  • Formative assessment: This reference article discusses the history, concept, and application of formative assessment.
  • Formative assessment resources: The practice of formative assessment can help teachers inform instruction and can improve student success. Often, however, conducting effective formative assessment is easier said than done. These resources offer strategies and support for educators to integrate more ongoing assessment into their teaching.
  • Cooperative learning: Cooperative learning is an instructional method in which students work together in small, heterogeneous...

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Summative assessments are cumulative evaluations used to measure student growth after instruction and are generally given at the end of a course in order to determine whether long term learning goals have been met. Summative assessments are not like formative assessments, which are designed to provide the immediate, explicit feedback useful for helping teacher and student during the learning process. High quality summative information can shape how teachers organize their curricula or what courses schools offer their students.1

Although there are many types of summative assessments, the most common examples include:

  • State-mandated assessments
  • District benchmark or interim assessments
  • End-of-unit or -chapter tests
  • End-of-term or -semester exams
  • Scores that are used for accountability for schools (AYP) and students (report card grades)2

According to the North Carolina Public Schools, summative assessments are often created in the following formats:

  • Selected response items
    • Multiple choice
    • True/false
    • Matching
  • Short answer
    • Fill in the blank
    • One or two sentence response
  • Extended written response
  • Performance assessment3

The North Carolina Department of Public Instruction explains that information collected from summative assessments “is evaluative and is used to categorize students so performance among students can be compared.”4