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Summative Assessment: Assessment of Learning

The purpose of summative assessment is to gather evidence of student achievement after instruction has been completed. These assessments are used to determine the extent to which students have achieved mastery on specified learning outcomes at a given point in time.

Summative assessments may include more than end-of-year statewide assessments. They also may include any assessment that is given at the end of instruction (chapter, unit, quarterly, end of course). Data from summative assessments is often used for assigning grades, certifying student attainment of instructional objectives, and/or determining eligibility for programs or advancement. The data may also be used to evaluate system-level program effectiveness.

Refer to the graphic below to identify which of the assessment levels you consider to be used most often as summative assessments. Think about how the data from these assessments is typically used at classroom, school, or district levels, and then complete the reflection question that follows. Move your mouse over each data source in the graphic to view examples:

Sources of Assessment Data

Summative Summative Summative Formative Formative Formative Image Map

Source: Heritage 2010


Remember—it is how the data from the assessment is used that is the key factor in determining if it is a summative or formative process.



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