Summative assessment

Summative assessment (or summative evaluation) refers to the assessment of participants where the focus is on the outcome of a program. This contrasts with formative assessment, which summarizes the participants' development at a particular time. Summative assessment is widely taught in educational programs in the United States. Scriven claims that while all assessment techniques can be summative, only some are formative.[1]

The goal of summative assessment is to evaluate student learning at the end of an instructional unit by comparing it against a standard or benchmark. Note, 'the end' does not necessarily mean the end of an entire course or module of study. Summative assessments may be distributed throughout a course, after a particular unit (or collection of topics) have been taught, and there are advantages to doing so. In many disciplines in the UK Higher Education sector, there has been a move away from 100% end of course assessments, to a model where summative assessments are distributed across a course, which helps to scaffold students' learning. Summative assessment usually involves students receiving a grade that indicates their level of performance, be it a percentage, pass/fail, or some other form of scale grade. Summative assessments are weighted more than formative assessments. For example-test after 6 months in schools, Semester exams in B. Ed after each 6 months.

Instructional design

Summative assessment is used as an evaluation technique in instructional design. It can provide information on an intervention's efficacy (its ability to do what it was designed to do). Summative evaluation judges the worth, or value, of an intervention at its conclusion.

Educator performance

Summative assessment can be used to refer to assessment of educational faculty by their respective supervisor, with the object of measuring all teachers on the same criteria to determine the level of their performance. In this context summative assessment is meant to meet the school or district's needs for teacher accountability. The evaluation usually takes the shape of a form, and consists of check lists and occasionally narratives. Areas evaluated include classroom climate, instruction, professionalism, and planning and preparation.[2]


Methods of summative assessment aim to summarize overall learning at the completion of the course or unit.

  • Questionnaires
  • Surveys
  • Interviews
  • Observations
  • Testing
  • Projects (a culminating project that synthesizes knowledge)

See also


  1. R. W. Tyler, R. M. Gagne, & M. Scriven (Eds.) (1967). "The methodology of evaluation". Perspectives of curriculum evaluation. Chicago, IL: Rand McNally. pp. 39–83.
  2. Glickman, C.D., Gordon, S.P., & Ross-Gordon, J.M. (2009).Supervision and instructional leadership: a developmental approach Allyn and Bacon, Boston, MA.
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