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Formative vs00:45

Formative vs. Summative Assessments

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Assessment refers to the process by which teachers measure the knowledge, skills, and beliefs of their students. There are three types of assessments that are most widely used in education and they are formative, summative, and performance assessment. Teachers need to have solid knowledge of formative and summative assessment and how each can help ensure that students are mastering key contents and skill. They also need to be able to take the information gained from assessments and make decisions that support the learning of all students because assessment matters to their overall educational well-being.

Formative assessment is assessment for learning while summative assessment is assessment of learning. While they both sound similar, they hold many differences. “Formative assessment typically occurs before and during learning, whereas summative assessment occurs after instruction” (Lefrancois, 2013, ch.5.1). Examples of formative assessment include notes, quizzes, asking questions during instruction, and homework. In contrast, summative assessment occurs at the end of an instructional unit and is used to evaluate student progress and achievement and provide a grade (Lefrancois, 2013). Examples of summative assessment are midterms and final exams that provide a final grade.


Performance assessment “requires students to demonstrate that they have mastered specific skills and competencies by performing or producing something” (learner.org). Examples of performance assessments are essays, musical and dance recitals, or science experiments.

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