I’m a trainee teacher and we’ve talked a lot about inclusive learning and making learning accessible for students, do people think summative assessments reflect this ethos?


If a teacher has used a variety of methods so the students can understand the material being delivered, but then the students are only assessed by handing in a written piece of work, would this demonstrate a student’s knowledge and understanding of the subject to the best of their ability, if they are stronger verbally as an example?


I have limited experience regarding summative assessments as yet and would love to hear what people think about them, how they can be improved or if they’re working well and why? 

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Assessment is about obtaining the entire photo album and not just the single snapshot...to use the words of Wiggins and McTighe (2005).  It's about relying more on formative assessment than simply on summative assessment.  Formative assessment let's each student "learn forward", that is, giving each student time to make tactical learning adjustments and educators time to make instructional changes along the way.  

Finally, assessment is a group effort.  Depending on the subject and maturity level of the group, make learning as transparent as possible.  Break down the instruction and assessment divide by having various forms of assessment "actors" that get to perform throughout a give unit: self-assessment; peer-assessment; open teacher assessment where each student (and colleague) can see how the teacher is assessing their classmates; and outside (community) assessment.

I know the assumption is that one must only rely on summative assessments due to the push to standardization.  But educators have a responsibility to implement as much formative-types of assessment as possible.  This is not a zero-sum game, but rather one type of assessment very much complementing the other.  You can still align formative assessments to standards to get the job done.  Educators (as expert learners) need to be in a place where assessments develop openly and shared among faculty (both successes and failures), still giving the educator the freedom to implement a lesson based on their teaching preferences and the learning preferences of their students.

Finding (formative and summative) assessments that align to standards should be an open discussion with all educational stakeholders so that when instruction is being implemented, everyone is working and learning towards the same objectives. And don't assume that certain types of tests that are typically associated with summative assessment (final exam) should remain summative.  Dynamic assessment can turn a test that people typically think as being summative into a learning moment (formative assessment).

Different students have different levels or need, understanding, knowledge and all learn at different rates. Summative assessment works to bring together a common goal and standardise, but it does a disservice to learners who are better at demonstrating their understanding and learning in different ways, other than those set by the standardised assessment.

Formative assessment alongside summative assessment would help to bridge the gap, but wouldn't it be more beneficial to combine the 2 as a definitive assessment process, which combines as many different assessment processes as there are students and learning styles?

I think both assessments are valid, but an assessment that develops with both of these ideas to make a new type of assessment would be an interesting thought...

How it would work I will have to think about and do a bit of research on, but worth thinking about.
Summative assessments can be formative if feedback is given and then the students can use this to aid them in the future, but I'd like to see if formative assessment could be what a student is graded upon, as you say combining different assessment processes as there are students and learning styles. Taking an average grade from many assessments, as students will be stronger through some assessment means than others, rather than as it can be just taking into consideration a few or just one grade. Michael Gove with the Ebacc qualification replacing GCSE'S will take away the modular system and it will go to a 3 hour exam summative assessment, which may be fine for some, but not for everyone.



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