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What is the Difference between a Formative Assessment and a Summative Assessment?

What is the Difference between a Formative Assessment and a Summative Assessment?

A formative assessment is an ongoing assessment used to inform instruction. The frequency is not defined, so it might be weekly or quarterly. Also the type of measure used is not defined, so long as the information is helpful for the teacher in making adjustments to instruction in an ongoing manner. It could be as simple as classroom observations, a fluency test, or a full diagnostic assessment like DORA or ADAM.

A summative assessment is given at pre-determined intervals. It could range from a state assessment to a benchmark test, or an end-of-unit test. It specifically is testing the knowledge that a student should have mastered by a particular point in time. A summative assessment is used for accountability.

Tags: formative assessment, summative assessment, difference between formative assessment and summative assessment

Comments
  1. Carol
    Reply 10/11/10

    Thanks for this simple and straight forward definition. It was very helpful.

  2. Jennifer
    Reply 05/19/10

    Thank you. I’ve never really heard it explained like that before. That really helps.

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