PLN Activity 7 : Formative vs. Summative Assessments

Classroom assessments can include a wide range of options — from recording anecdotal notes while observing a student to administering standardized tests. The options can be roughly divided into two categories — formative assessments and summative assessments. I’m not going to say which one can best fit in education because each one has its own value. I’d say we should know how to combine these two kinds of assessments wisely so as to progress students’ learning and enhance teaching effectiveness.


In my opinion, there’s a mysterious relationship between formative assessment and summative assessment. The goal of summative assessments is to make a judgment of student competency after an instructional phase is complete. It helps to evaluate the effectiveness of instructional programs.


On the other hand, formative assessments are on-going assessments, reviews, and observations in a classroom. Teachers can redesign or use different instructional strategies if they notice that students can’t grasp a concept. Besides, students can monitor their progress with periodic quizzes and performance tasks.


Why am I saying that these two forms have the mysterious relationship? In my point of views, if we have periodic quizzes after each unit/chapter, this is called summative assessments. If we take all those quizzes, reviews and students in class performance throughout the semester into account to calculate the final grade, this can be called formative assessment. However, the final grade that the students receive is a summative result under the process of formative assessment. Isn’t it interesting?


  I know that students in the United State need to take the SAT/ ACT as the entrance exam for college while students in mainland China need to take “GAOKAO”, which is a national entrance exam for applying the universities in China. Those are definitely typical summative assessments, students who plan to take these exams are under great pressure. Luckily, I didn’t need to take any of those because I am living Macau, which has the different educational system compare with China. Many nations will use this kind of standardized tests as the entrance exams because they’re convenient and fast! They can “judge” students whether they have mastered specific competencies to make themselves qualified enough to be college students. However, there’re some drawbacks, for example, if the student doesn’t feel well on that day, it may worsen his/her performance in the exam. Therefore, in my opinion, if colleges can also take the academic transcripts in high school and the CVs into account, it helps to evaluate students in a more comprehensive way! 

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