Summative Assessments and How We Can Enhance Their Quality

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SummativeAssessments and How We Can Enhance Their Quality

SummativeAssessments and How We Can Enhance Their Quality

Thecurrent technologically connected world is characterized by a firstmoving environment that has impacted almost every aspect of ourexistence. According to Glickman, Gordon, and Ross-Gordon (2016),standing out in the present dynamic times has become dependent on awide range of things. For instance, how fast and accurate we are inlearning and grasping new concepts is now a determinant factor of oursurvival. There are many tools and programs of helping us becomeknowledgeable individuals. One of these programs is the formaleducation that seeks to deliver a pre-defined curriculum to studentsthroughout all their learning stages. According to New YorkUniversity (2016), however, formal education can only be efficaciousif its intended effectiveness is measured as students graduate fromone stage to the other. Basing on this therefore, summativeassessments provide a framework of tracking, measuring and evaluatingstudents learning as well as their educational achievement throughoutall stages of learning.

TheStructure of Summative Assessments

Asestablished in the introduction, the main objective of summativeassessments is to evaluate student learning as they go through formaleducation. As such, Tomlinson and Tonya (2013) note that theseassessments are structured in form of measurable parameters and areadministered at the end of an instructional unit, course, project,semester program or school year to evaluate how much has beenabsorbed by the learner. Evaluation in this context is done byliterally comparing the performance of the student against setstandards or benchmarks. All those that meet or surpass the standardsare graded as having successfully completed learning in thatparticular level and thus have a greenlight to proceed to the nextstage in learning. On the other hand, there may be some addedrequirements that those who fail to reach this benchmark need tofulfill before they are given the same greenlight. According toTomlinson and Tonya (2013) for instance, some institutions mayrequire students to take up bridging courses while some may requirethem to retake the level altogether.

Inthe present highly competitive environment, summative assessmentshave gained a high point value. This is exhibited in their highstakes and amount of influence on the entire education system. NewYork University (2016) notes that assessments such as midterm exams,final projects, end-of-semester papers and senior recitals offer alot of educational insights besides the mere evaluation of students.For instance, how majority of learners perform in a particular examcan offer vital information regarding the effectiveness of thestrategies and approaches used to teach the same subject or unit.This in return can help the faculty guide its efforts and activitiesin subsequent courses to ensure it embraces the best and mosteffective teaching models and practices.

Waysof Ensuring and Improving the Quality of Summative Assessments

Asit is now, summative assessments are of very high stakes anddetermine a lot regarding the academic fate of a learner. Apparently,most educational programs around the world use this system to measureand grade all students in the different stages of learning. As such,there is a dire need to ensure that the system is as efficient aspossible to acknowledge and reflect their real potential. Glickman,Gordon, &amp Ross-Gordon (2016) note that it can be quiteunfortunate when well performing students are penalized by theinefficiencies of an exam system that is ironically meant to showcasetheir academic worth. In the same effect, the society would have ageneration of fools when such a system is widely used to give creditto underperforming students who falsely meet the set standards andbenchmarks.

TheNew York University (2016) notes that doing regular practices is oneof the most effective ways through which institutions can enhance thequality of summative assessments. From current studies, it has beennoted with concern that a number of students perform poorly in mainexams due to fright and exam phobia. The best way of helping suchstudents is exposing them to regular mock tests that have low or nostakes. According to Tomlinson and Tonya (2013), this will raisetheir confidence because it will make them get used to theexamination environment. By the time they seat for the main summativeassessments, they will be able to undertake whichever test with a lotof ease, thus reflecting their actual performance in the results.Mock tests might also provide useful insights regarding the bestpractices of administering and managing main exams and tests. Forinstance, teachers may discover more about their students and howthey respond different situations. This information is useful incrafting the best approaches to preparing them for the assessment.

Anothernotable strategy of ensuring quality of summative assessments isspacing them out over a period of time. Some education systems in theworld have been criticized for putting a lot of pressure on students.This pressure is exhibited in form of back-to-back tests that aredone in quick successions. The justification behind this approach isthe more frequent a student is evaluated, the more the opportunitieshe gets to learn from his mistakes. In reality however, modernstudies have confirmed that most learners are bound to performdismally when compelled to frequent high stake exams. This is becausethe human mind generally works better when exposed to distributedpractice. In other words, processing of information is more efficientwhen the second session is a little bit spaced from the originalsession when the same information was created.

Thefinal strategy of enhancing the quality of summative assessmentsentails linking new topics with preceding one or basicallyrecapitulating the preceding topics. On this, New York University(2016) notes that learning is a continuous process that never ends.Therefore, there is need for continuity in the manner in whichstudents are evaluated throughout the process. Experiences from dailyclassroom activities clearly reveal that students learn better whenthere is ongoing reinforcement and revision. As such, the setting ofsummative assessments should be cumulative with a clear link betweenthe preceding topics. Glickman, Gordon, &amp Ross-Gordon (2016) notethat this will help sharpen students’ retention and understandingof different topics.


Formany years, summative assessments have been used as the maintechnique for tracking and evaluating academic achievement oflearners partaking formal education. This technique has proveneffective because its parameters are not only measurable, but alsoattainable. Nonetheless, there are many other ways through which theassessments can be made more efficient. As illustrated above, some ofthese easy ways entails spacing out the assessment programs, linkingthem to preceding topics and doing regular mock practices to helpstudents familiarize with the process.


Glickman,C.D., Gordon, S.P., &amp Ross-Gordon, J.M. (2016). Supervisionand instructional leadership: a developmental approach. Boston,MA: Allyn and Bacon,

NewYork University. (2016). AssessmentMethods: A Look at Formal and Informal Techniques.Reviewed from

Tomlinson,C.A. &amp Tonya, R.M. (2013). Assessmentand Student Success in a Differentiated Classroom. NewYork: Association for Supervision &amp Curriculum Development.