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Learning and Teaching should meet the needs of the Whole Learner:

Summative Assessment
Summative Assessment is the formal testing of what has been learned in order to produce marks or grades which may be used for reports of various types. This is different from Formative Assessment, in which the emphasis is on on-going assessments of different types used to judge how best to help pupils learn further.

Points arising from Research


In formative assessment the emphasis is more on helping pupils learn. (See section on Formative Assessment Summative assessment can have a negative impact on pupils motivation Schools can work to change the culture of assessment to make more effective use of summative assessment

Key Elements of Summative Assessment


Effects on motivation (Motivation is seen as a compound of many factors) After summative assessment, low-achieving pupils had lower self-esteem than higher-achievers, whereas there had been no correlation between self-esteem and achievement before Repeated practice tests reinforce low self-esteem of low achievers Big bang tests cause anxiety in pupils, especially girls Tests do motivate some pupils. They also widen the gap between high- and low-achievers motivation Summative assessment promotes extrinsic motivation, in which pupils respond to the promise of some kind of reward rather than intrinsic motivation in which they perform because they are interested and want to do the work. When results of summative assessment are presented as primarily relating to individual pupils the negative effect on low-achievers is more pronounced than when the results are for evaluation of school or authority standards. Secondary age low-achievers may deliberately underperform in summative assessments because they are failing anyway Summative assessments can be limiting for the most able Curriculum and teaching The curriculum can be narrowed by teaching to the test. This can even mean that time is taken away from curriculum content. It can also produce distortion in terms of teaching techniques Summative test questions may not be framed in the same way as those preferred for formative assessment. Teachers can spend a lot of time on summative assessment which does not directly improve pupils learning.

Teachers sometimes adopt a more didactic transmission style of teachin g which disadvantages those who dont respond well to it. Validity and reliability Validity must be assured in terms of the following: The content of the assessment The way in which the assessment is constructed A tests linkage with the way the items have been taught Reliability must be assured in terms of the following:

Consistency across tasks Consistency in scoring/grading Positive potential Schools have little direct control over the nature of external summative assessments and must be careful to prepare pupils effectively for these. However, certain principles can inform the effective use of summative assessment of coursework. These principles are seen as ways of encouraging skills and attitudes for lifelong learning. Intrinsic interest in tasks can be encouraged (see above) Pupil awareness of learning goals rather than test performance goals can be developed A wide range of types of understanding can be included in summative assessment Some formative assessment evidence may be included in summative reports Peer- and self-assessment could be included in summative records Tests dont need to be formal written assessments The comparison of individual pupils on the basis of scores can be avoided Summative tests can be placed before the end of a teaching block so that there is some opportunity for follow-up based on the results, and even reassessment Summative judgements can be made on the basis of a variety of tests (varied both in form and content) Pupils could carry forward lessons from assessments even into the next school session (eg in the form of a copy of their school report) Feedback can be given to pupils in terms of the learning goals rather than just a test mark Tests might be devised to assess separate elements of the course separately In practising for summative assessment, pupils can make up and answer their own questions. (Research has shown this to be an effective strategy) Tests can be timed according to pupil readiness rather than leaving them to the end of the block of work Summative assessment can be presented to pupils realistically, as being limited Tests can provide evidence for evaluating courses and teaching approaches Whole-school discussion of such assessment principles can be helpful

Reflection and Discussion


Do you feel that time spent of summative assessment tasks is as profitable as it might be? Can summative assessment be exploited for formative purposes?

Some Activities Relating To the Issue Summative Assessment Key Objective Action element Some examples and suggestions Effects on Motivation
Big bang tests cause anxiety in pupils, especially girls. Summative tests can be presented as merely the culmination of the formative process. The aim would be a culture in which the pupil attempts to do well in all types of assessment, so that there is no need to give special prominence to final assessments. Take stock of your approach to preparing pupils for tests. Do you still adopt the same range of teaching approaches? Is there a tendency for pupils and teachers to become anxious and revert to less involving strategies. A pupil questionnaire can be used to sample pupil opinion after the assessment has been completed. Tests are sometimes made up by people who have taught the course in a different way or not taught it at all. Are your summative test items related to your own approach? Check, for example, that pupils understand all the language in the assessment. This is frequently not the case. Do you or can you build in items testing ability to solve new problems, think critically, make informed decisions?

Curriculum and Teaching

It can also produce distortion in terms of teaching techniques.

Validity and Reliability

A tests linkage with the way the items have been taught

Positive Potential

A wide range of types of understanding can be included in summative assessment.