Parents may hear teachers talk about two different types of assessments, formative and summative. Take a moment to understand the difference and how each type of test benefits students and their learning.
Formative assessments are a way for teachers to "check in" with students. It is done while students are still learning.
For example, a teacher may give a brief quiz as a checking device to find out which students have learned the concept, and which students need additional time and study. The quiz is then followed by corrective instruction for those who needed that additional time, as well as enrichment activities to extend the learning of students who have demonstrated their mastery of the concept. A formative assessment can be as brief as a "thumbs up" check for understanding.
Formative assessments help teachers to diagnose their students’ progress and to modify the instruction accordingly. It also helps students to monitor their own progress as they get feedback from their peers and the teacher. Students find the opportunity to revise/refine their thinking by means of formative assessment. Formative assessments may or may not be graded, depending on the curricular objective.
Summative assessments are a way for teachers to evaluate/describe students’ performance at a specific time. It is done at the end of a unit or instructional period.
For example, a teacher will give an exam to determine how well students have learned the curricular concepts. The teacher calculates the grade in order to summarize the development of the learner at a particular time. Summative assessments are administered after sufficient formative assessment and instruction have occurred.