Daily Bulletin


The Conversation

  • Written by Rod Lane, Senior Lecturer in Educational Assessment, Macquarie University

The recent Gonski report argues Australia needs assessment and reporting models that capture both achievement progress and long-term learning progress. This, according to the review panel, involves low-stakes, low-key, and regular formative assessments to support learning progressions. The report used international evidence on individualised teaching to demonstrate ongoing formative assessment and feedback is fundamental to supporting students to do better in school.

The NSW Education Minister, Rob Stokes, has called for NAPLAN to be replaced in “haste” with less high stakes tests. Mark Scott, the secretary of the NSW Department of Education, echoed Stokes’ remarks. He stated:

I think [NAPLAN] will become obsolete because the kinds of information that the new assessment schemes will give us will be richer and deeper and more meaningful for teachers, for parents and for education systems.

So, what’s the difference between formative and summative assessment? And when should each be used? Formative and summative assessment have different purposes and both have an important role to play in a balanced assessment program.

what's the difference between formative and summative assessment in schools? Formative assessments provide students with feedback and show where gaps in learning are. Shutterstock

Formative assessment

Formative assessment includes a range of strategies such as classroom discussions and quizzes designed to generate feedback on student performance. This is done so teachers can make changes in teaching and learning based on what students need.

It involves finding out what students know and do not know, and continually monitoring student progress during learning. Both teachers and students are involved in decisions about the next steps in learning.

Read more: Marking answers with a tick or cross won't enhance learning

Teachers use the feedback from formative tasks to identify what students are struggling with and adjust instruction appropriately. This could involve re-teaching key concepts, changing how they teach or modifying teaching resources to provide students with additional support. Students also use feedback from formative tasks to reflect on and improve their own work.

Regular classroom tasks, whether formal (for example, traditional pen and paper tests) or informal (such as classroom discussions), can be adapted into effective formative tasks by:

  • making students aware of the learning goals/success criteria using rubrics and carefully tracking student progress against them

  • including clear instructions to guide students through a series of activities to demonstrate the success criteria. A teacher might, for example, design a series of activities to guide students through an inquiry or research process in science

  • providing regular opportunities for feedback from the teacher, other students or parents (this feedback may be face-to face, written, or online)

  • making sure students have opportunities to reflect on and make use of feedback to improve their work. This may involve asking students to write a short reflection about the feedback on their draft essay and using this to improve their final version.

There are many advantages of formative assessment:

  • feedback from formative assessment helps students become aware of any gaps between their goal and their current knowledge, understanding, or skill

  • tasks guide students through the actions necessary to hit learning goals

  • tasks encourage students to focus their attention on the task (such as undertaking an inquiry or research process) rather than on simply getting the right answer

  • students and teachers receive ongoing feedback about student progress towards learning goals, which enables teachers to adjust their instructional approach in response to what students need

  • students build their self-regulation skills by setting learning goals and monitoring their progress towards them

  • results of formative assessments can also be used for grading and reporting.

what's the difference between formative and summative assessment in schools? Summative assessments are generally standardised and rarely provide feedback. Shutterstock

Summative assessment

This includes end of unit examinations and the NSW Higher School Certificate (HSC) examination.

Summative assessment provides students, teachers and parents with an understanding of the pupil’s overall learning. Most commonly thought of as formal, time-specific exams, these assessments may include major essays, projects, presentations, art works, creative portfolios, reports or research experiments. These assessments are designed to measure the student’s achievement relative to the subject’s overall learning goals as set out in the relevant curriculum standards.

The design and goals of summative assessments are generally standardised so they can be applied to large numbers of students, multiple cohorts and time periods. Data collected on individual student, cohort, school or system performance provides schools and principals with a tool to evaluate student knowledge relative to the learning objectives. They can also compare them with previous cohorts and other schools.

Read more: Evidence-based education needs standardised assessment

The measurement and evaluation of student achievement this way gives us necessary information about how we can continuously improve learning and teaching.

There are a number of limitations of summative assessment. While formative assessments usually provide feedback for the student to review and develop their learning, summative assessments are rarely returned to students. When assessments provide only a numerical grade and little or no feedback, as the NSW HSC does, it’s hard for students and teachers to pinpoint learning needs and determine the way forward.

Additionally, being a form of “high stakes” assessment, results may be perceived as a way of ranking students. For high achieving students there is recognition and reward, while for the lower performing students there is potential embarrassment and shame. Neither of these things should be associated with an equal opportunity education system.

The author would like to acknowledge the work of David McDonald, a PhD student at Macquarie University in assessment, in writing this article.

Authors: Rod Lane, Senior Lecturer in Educational Assessment, Macquarie University

Read more http://theconversation.com/explainer-whats-the-difference-between-formative-and-summative-assessment-in-schools-97441

Writers Wanted

I studied 5,000 phone images: objects were more popular than people, but women took way more selfies

arrow_forward

Bad reactions to the COVID vaccine will be rare, but Australians deserve a proper compensation scheme

arrow_forward

Pacific tourism is desperate for a vaccine and travel freedoms, but the industry must learn from this crisis

arrow_forward

The Conversation
INTERWEBS DIGITAL AGENCY

Politics

Prime Minister Interview with Ben Fordham, 2GB

BEN FORDHAM: Scott Morrison, good morning to you.    PRIME MINISTER: Good morning, Ben. How are you?    FORDHAM: Good. How many days have you got to go?   PRIME MINISTER: I've got another we...

Scott Morrison - avatar Scott Morrison

Prime Minister Interview with Kieran Gilbert, Sky News

KIERAN GILBERT: Kieran Gilbert here with you and the Prime Minister joins me. Prime Minister, thanks so much for your time.  PRIME MINISTER: G'day Kieran.  GILBERT: An assumption a vaccine is ...

Daily Bulletin - avatar Daily Bulletin

Did BLM Really Change the US Police Work?

The Black Lives Matter (BLM) movement has proven that the power of the state rests in the hands of the people it governs. Following the death of 46-year-old black American George Floyd in a case of ...

a Guest Writer - avatar a Guest Writer

Business News

Cybersecurity data means nothing to business leaders without context

Top business leaders are starting to realise the widespread impact a cyberattack can have on a business. Unfortunately, according to a study by Forrester Consulting commissioned by Tenable, some...

Scott McKinnel, ANZ Country Manager, Tenable - avatar Scott McKinnel, ANZ Country Manager, Tenable

InteliCare triple winner at prestigious national technology awards

InteliCare triple winner at prestigious national technology awards Intelicare wins each nominated category and takes out overall category at national technology 2020 iAwards. Company wins overal...

Media Release - avatar Media Release

Arriba Group Founder, Marcella Romero, wins CEO Magazine’s Managing Director of the Year

Founder and Managing Director of the Arriba Group, Marcella Romero, has won Managing Director of the Year at last night’s The CEO Magazine’s Executive of the Year Awards. The CEO Magazine's Ex...

Lanham Media - avatar Lanham Media



News Co Media Group

Content & Technology Connecting Global Audiences

More Information - Less Opinion