Summative Assessments

 Assessments of Learning 

     These are the assessments that are given periodically to determine at a particular point in time what students know and do not know.  Summative assessments are measurements of learning.     These types of assessments must include foundational knowledge, multi-levels of analysis, critical thinking, and real world application.  It is the accountability measure that is the essential part of the grading process.  There are seversl approaches to using summative assessments in the classroom.  Here are a few ways teachers can measure achievement.

Approaches to Summative Assessments

Approach I: Summative Score Assigned at the End of the Grading Period
On the first assessment, students can receive low scores of 
  1.0 or 2.0 as material is progressively taught.  Students would not be able to receive scores of a  3.0, 4.0 because the content has not yet been taught.
Weakness: Some students might be concerned when they don't  receive high scores on the first few assessments in the unit.  Students are assessed only on the content they have been taught.
Strength: Students are aware of what is expected of them from the very beginning of the unit.  Material is presented at a 2.0, 3.0, 4.0 and students see the type of content they are expected to master by the end of the grading period or unit of instruction. Summative score assigned at the end of the grading period is most recent evidence of learning.

Approach II: Gradual Accumulation of a Summative Score

The teacher designs assessments that includes items from a 2.0, 3.0, 4.0 content and administers it to the entire class.  However, the teacher can take an individual approach to assessment, making use of student generated assessments.  To increase a student's score on a scale, the teacher must be convinced that the student has demonstrated a measurable increase in knowledge.  Students present evidence for moving to a higher score on the scale, and the teacher and students interact about that evidence to clarify the student's status.

Weakness: More labor intensive because the teacher must meet frequently with individual students to assess their progress.
Strength: assessment is individualized.  Provides for differentiated instructional strategies to meet varying levels of cognitive complexity and learner readiness.  Each student is considered an independent case. It allows students to be at the center of the assessment process because they are responsible for providing evidence of their progress.

Approach III: The Whole Class Progresses as One

(2.0 taught to all students at same time before moving on to 3.0, etc.) Teachers moves on when reasonably sure all students have reached or will eventually reach 3.0 status.  A big weakness of this approach is that it doesn't address individual needs because all students in the class move through the content at about the same pace. 
Weakness: This can frustrate students at both ends of low to high learner readiness and cognitive complexity. 
Strength: A strength of this approach is that it is a familiar approach to students and parents.  Students tend to receive high scores on all assessments because they are only assessed on what has been taught.

Approach IV: Continual Improvement Throughout the Year

This approach allows students to increase their scores on any topic throughout the entire year.  Scales are constructed for each of these learning goals.  A teacher can address two learning goals, assign summative scores in accordance with approach 1 or 2.  In the next unit, the teacher might address the next two learning goals and students would have opportunities to work on the learning goals from the first unit in an effort to raise their scores.  Throughout the year, the teacher continues to present new learning goals in new units, however, at any point in time, students can raise their scores on previous learning goals.  This is typically done through student-generated assessment.  The student can propose ways that they can demonstrate a higher score on a particular score, then the score is changed. 

Weakness: This approach is highly labor-intensive because record keeping is cumulative throughout the entire year. Another issue arises when a classroom is set up under a traditional system where once a topic has been taught, students do not have the opportunity to go back and raise their scores.  This approach is the most dramatic shift from traditional grading.
Strength: A major strength of approach 4 is the focus on yearlong improvement.  Every student can score a 3.0 or higher on every topic.  Students can go back and improve their knowledge of any goal that has been addressed throughout the entire year.  Students usually take more rtesponsibility for their own learning.  It gives students the flexibility to raise scores on any learning goal at any time during the school year.
(Marzano, 2009)


Marzano, R.J. (2009). Designing and teaching learning goals and 
     objectives: Classroom strategies that work.  Bloomington, IN:
     Marzano Research Laboratory.