Summative assessment is a tool to evaluate the student's learning throughout the academic year or a program that they are pursuing. The learning is compared against a set standard or benchmark. These assessments mostly have a high point value or carry the most weightage in the overall grade.
Summative assessments indicate learning gaps between the student's knowledge and learning targets. This helps in developing a better lesson plan, improving the curriculum and the overall performance of the instructors. They cover the whole content area and assign a grade to the student’s understanding.
Important aspects of summative assessments:
- Common gaps in student learning
- The information that’s retained or mastered by students
- Highlights the need of developing a better learning plan, teaching methodologies or other educational activities
- Highlights the strengths and weaknesses of the current curriculum, lesson and teaching plans.
Examples of Summative Assessments:
Final/Mid-term Exams – These exams are conducted annual or semiannually and gauge the overall understanding and concepts of the subject matter. These exams carry a great weight on the overall grade. For instance, yearly or half-yearly tests/exams conducted within the school or outside school - IGCSE (O/A Level exams).
Final projects/ portfolios – These projects usually consist of longitudinal outcomes, i.e research carried out in phases or requires to monitor change in factors over a period of time. However, portfolios consist of all the creative work done during the academic year.
End of unit test – Tests conducted after finishing a unit of the book that consists of several chapters. These tests must consist of parts of important concepts within the whole unit.
S.A.T – It is commonly treated as an entry test for many colleges or universities. They test the knowledge of the English language and mathematical skills of the students.
Term/Research papers – These are the type of assignments that require thorough research and are conducted in phases. Such assignments also add up to a high weightage for a student's overall grade.
Summative Assessments in distance learning:
Summative assessments can be conducted both in-person and through distance learning. However, in distance learning, it’s important to assess the essential knowledge rather than the additional one. Conducting summative assessments in distance education requires the instructor to assess the student’s ability to practically apply the concepts or knowledge.
Performance-based - The assessments must be performance-based to avoid the chances of cheating. Performance tasks are research-based and require the students to critically think before answering the questions.
Oral exams - Assessing the student’s understanding of concepts in distance learning can be tricky. The instructor can always take oral exams and ask questions about the important aspects of the subject.
In conclusion, summative assessments are lengthy in nature but assess the student’s understanding of the subject matter. Apart from the debate on grades and how an alphabet can not determine the student’s intellectual ability, the summative assessment covers the most important and detailed aspects of the subject and is used worldwide.