Tools to unite summative and formative assessment

engaging with EAL students in the classroom

Published: January 19th, 2024

To understand how to unite summative and formative assessment it’s important to discuss not just how they differ, but how they are alike.

They both assess student progress, of course. Both formative and summative assessments contribute towards pupils’ overall results and learning progress. Both pave a learning path for the remainder of a student’s education. 

Formative assessment sets the scene and prepares pupils for their formal summative assessments at the end of a set learning period. 

However, formative assessment is a journey. It can include a range of flexible learning tactics such as classroom discussions, quizzes, and polls designed to generate feedback on student performance. It involves finding out what students know and do not know — continually monitoring and adjusting to suit that type of learner. 

Summative assessment, meanwhile, is the end goal. It’s a structured form of assessment that provides students, teachers and parents with an understanding of the pupil’s overall learning. Most commonly thought of as time-specific exams, these assessments may include major essays, projects, presentations, portfolios, reports, or research. 

The best tools to unite formative and summative assessment

The best way to unite these two forms of assessment is to create informal but structured quizzes and tests in the classroom that prepare students for the formality of official exams like SATs. Some schools may use benchmark testing, for example, to monitor the academic progress of pupils and determine whether they are on track to mastering the material that will be evaluated on end-of-course tests. 

These interim tests are largely formative; they are diagnostic and help modify learning techniques, but they also entirely mimic the process of formative assessment, preparing pupils for their final exams.

Here are three tools that can help teachers unite formative and summative assessment techniques:

1. Interactive Displays for the classroom

Students are accustomed to taking formal tests under strict exam conditions. By transferring the assessment process to your interactive display, like an ActivPanel, you’re removing the pressure and potential stress for students, but encouraging them to practice answering questions on the same subject matter.

Students can complete tasks on the ActivPanel based on lesson subject matter. The software tracks correct/incorrect answers, as well as the time the activity has taken. Activities on the ActivPanel are also great for consolidating, reinforcing, and extending learning.

2. Google Classroom Question Tool

Within Google Classroom, you have the option to create questions and share that with your students. You can make this approach collaborative, or just have the answers viewable for you to mimic summative test conditions. 

This is not a robust assessment tool but certainly useful to check student understanding in preparation for summative assessments.

3. ActivInspire

ActivInspire, the free teaching software found on the ActivPanel, helps teachers bring lessons to life with activities that grab students’ attention, blending real-time assessment and real-world experience into the learning process.

To see ActivInspire in action, and find out how an ActivPanel could unite summative and formative assessments in your classroom, get in touch for a no-obligation onsite or remote demo.