I asked Dr. Rhonda Morris from OC’s School of Education to write a brief comparison and contrast of formative and summative assessment. What she’s provided is very useful! Here is what she wrote:
According to Banks, formative assessments “provide a guide and a direction for both teacher and student during an instructional program or course” (2012, p. 37). Formative assessment informs the teacher how the students are performing on an on-going basis. Assessment begins the first day of class and continues throughout the semester. Formative assessment can come in many forms – a quick write, a pop quiz, creating a graphic representation, an assignment, etc. – and should occur each time class meets. Formative assessment can also come in the form of an exam given over a selected amount of material that has been presented. Doing so allows the teacher to see how much information the students are grasping and whether any further instruction should be considered. Most educators agree that formative assessment be done frequently in order for students to fully understand material. In my classes, depending upon the difficulty of the concepts covered, I give a formal test every two to three chapters. However, every time we meet, the students write a reflection over the content or participate in a group activity. They also must respond to questions posted on Blackboard.
In contrast, a summative assessment informs the teacher of the mastery of content of a particular unit of study or the entire semester. This occurs through a formal assessment written by the teacher or from a test bank that covers the material the students have read and the teacher has covered. Standardized tests and minimum competency tests are forms of summative assessments as well as a final exam in a course.
Rhonda Morris, Ph. D.
Banks, S. R. (2012). Classroom assessment: Issues and practices. (2nd edition). Long Grove, IL: Waveland Press.