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Formative and Summative Assessment

All students have to be equally engaged in the learning process. However, personal approach of the students, combined with the effective assessment, allows pointing out the most succeeding ones. Student assessment can be either formative or summative.

Both formative and summative assessments are efficient tools in the course of data collecting. Summative assessment allows determining the overall level of student knowledge, obtained during certain learning period.  Generally summative assessment is associated with state or district-level testing, although end-of-term or semester exams, end-of-unit tests are also included in the category.  Summative assessment is important, but it does not allow the evaluation of the students’ progress in full scale, as only certain aspects of the learning process are included. Summative assessment does not allow putting the data together at the level, needed to make the evaluation of an entire class.

Formative assessment is more formal, coming along with a set of instructions. It is used when changes are required to be done during the teaching and learning process without any delays in it. Formative assessment allows both teachers and students to understand which amendments or changes to the learning process should be done in the timely manner. Formative assessment foresees providing of feedback for the students during the learning process on what and how they learn. Good teachers manage to involve the instruction in their own pedagogy, which is the formative assessment itself. The most essential part of this process is not about collecting the data, but its further management. All information should be thoroughly analyzed and further feedback should be brought to the students. Students better understand what they are doing right or wrong, provided they get clear and descriptive feedback.

The key to successful teaching of students is in balancing both summative and formative assessment during the process of student learning. Teacher holds the responsibility for applying both types of assessments to collect the needed data, analyze it and allow students to go through it and get the better understanding of their actions during the learning process.