Definition: The goal of summative assessment is to evaluate student learning at the end of an instructional unit by comparing it against some standard or benchmark. Traditional summative assessments are often high stakes, which means that they have a high point value. Examples of summative assessments include a midterm exam, a final project, or a performance assessment.

Formative vs Summative Assessments

• Shows evidence of learning, employs a process, and that process matters
• May be formal or informal
• Occurs regularly and is on-going
• Guides instructional decisions
• Measures needs and progress in learners
• Is authentic
• Is NOT graded
• Designed to promote improvement
• Supports students in monitoring their own progress
• Involves instructive feedback to improve the work of learners
• Assessment FOR learning

Examples are:
• Questioning
• Discussions
• Learning activities
• Conferences
• Interviews
• Reflections/Journals
• Observations
• Introduced at the beginning, so the endpoint will be known
• May be graded or not
• Is a culminating learning activity with the primary purpose of • evaluation
• Periodic
• Requires learners to draw upon skills and concepts learned over time
• Is authentic
• Can be customized for individual application
• Is scored with predetermined, possibly co-constructed success criteria
• Accompanied by multiple opportunities for feedback from teachers and peers prior to the end product
Portfolio assessment
• Assessment OF learning

Examples are:
• Exams
• Benchmark assessments
• Project

What makes a quality summative assessment?


Characteristics of Effective Summative Assessment (n.d.). from

Effective Summative Assessment Examples for Classrooms. (n.d.). 2021, from

Also Known As:
End assessments, Projects, Cumulative tasks, End of term exams, Unit exams/tests 
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