Summative and Formative Assessment

Summative is the end result of all that the student has achieved. Following discussion, I believe that the only true summative assessment is perhaps the HSC examination. Some examples may include tests and measurements.  The formative evaluation is happening while the student is still learning.  Constructive feedback to assist the learning process is the most fundamental aspect of formative assessment. This form of assessment is used to help the student improve, and take many varied forms, both formal and informal, whereas the summative assessment is usually testing at the ‘end’ and helps the teacher, school, and other stakeholders to refine their methods to assist in student learning and classroom management skills. In this aspect, summative assessment could be classified as formative. It is stakeholder dependant.

 Assessment of,for but most importantly as learning

For some time, I have been aware of assessment of, but more over a fan of assessment for learning. A further concept of assessment as learning is a new, innovative way of viewing and planning for the daily classroom experience. It suggests a closer alignment to pedagogy and true classroom activity. In essence, teachers are always ‘assessing’ student performance and providing feedback on these observations. This theory implies constant feedback loops between students and teachers and would appear to appeal to high order thinking and consistent evaluation of learning and teaching programmes. Asking questions along the learning journey, and using assessment AS a learning tool points towards a metacognitive process; where students and teachers think about their thinking, negotiating the curriculum along the way.

 Norm referenced, Criterion Referenced, Ipsative AssessmentThe argument that numbers mean nothing unless they are attached to standards is significant. Students, informed by society have come to place significant emphasis on numbers and are seemingly able to assert value to them. In reality, numbers alone are meaningless.This concept alone appears to significantly undermine norm referencing legitimacy. However, Killen (p130) would argue that fairness is a positive attribute, as tests are administered under the same conditions and work is marked in a uniform way (even if the only differences noted are really in the quantity of understanding, not quality.) Nevertheless, parents, and more recently governments appear to place far more significance on the mark rather than the process to get there, or the validity/reliability of the process. Norm referencing still has a legitimate place in education, particularly in the allocation of resources. To know the ‘best and worst’ in a class or cohort can go a long way to inform allocation of human and material resources in schools. It is also significantly used as a ‘gate keeping’ device to university entrance through the ATAR (arguably a far less legitimate use.)In order to address some shortcomings of norm referencing, standards-based assessment offers the more meaningful (for the purpose of true educational development) method of comparing student performance against a set of articulated standards, rather than against the ranked performance of others. It values the individual quality of response. This form of assessment can share the fairness factor of norm-referenced assessment, by being administered under the same conditions and marked in a uniform way (Killen, p131). This method reflects true student performance and ability, as their results do not have to conform to a ‘bell curve’ or pre-determined distribution of marks. An example is a student meeting criteria for a ‘D’ level at university, rather than simply being awarded a shallow ‘HD’ on the basis of a certain number of ‘HD’ marks mandated. While standards-based assessment and Criterion based assessment share many of the same values and features, there are allowances made for students with special needs in task administration in standards based tasks, and no comparisons between students are made, while criterion based indicated whether a student can or can’t fulfil the criteria, not to what extent. Students can get some really good feedback from these tasks, in the marking rubric and stated standards they have achieved alone.

Since really examining assessment, I have explicitly articulated the role of ispative assessment to my students. It is SO middle school...(thinking about the self and who I am...) Borrowing from the good points of standards-based assessment (which also speaks of formal assessment strategies), ipsative assessment  is the practice of assessing present student performance against prior performance of the person being assessed. This, to me, indicates a more informal approach, however can of course be used in conjunction with a range of other assessments to inform a good foundation of feedback activity.
 


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