Wing Institute Overview of Summative Assessment

March 22, 2018

Summative Assessment Overview

Summative assessment is an appraisal of learning at the end of an instructional unit or at a specific point in time. It compares student knowledge or skills against standards or benchmarks. Summative assessment evaluates the mastery of learning whereas its counterpart, formative assessment, measures progress and functions as a diagnostic tool to help specific students. Generally, summative assessment gauges how a particular population responds to an intervention rather than focusing on an individual. It often aggregates data across students to act as an independent yardstick that allows teachers, administrators, and parents to judge the effectiveness of the materials, curriculum, and instruction used to meet national, state, or local standards. Summative assessment includes midterm exams, final project, papers, teacher-designed tests, standardized tests, and high-stakes tests. As a subset of summative assessment, standardized tests play a pivotal role in ensuring that schools are held to the same standards and that all students regardless of race or socio-economic background perform to expectations. Summative assessment provides educators with the metrics to know what’s working and what’s not.

Citation: States, J., Detrich, R. & Keyworth, R. (2018). Overview of Summative Assessment. Oakland, CA: The Wing Institute.