What is Summative Assessment?

  • Summative assessment usually takes place after pupils have completed units of work or modules at the end of each term and/or year.
  • The information it gives indicates progress and achievement usually in grade-related or numerical terms.
  • It’s the more formal summing-up of a pupil’s progress.
  • This information can then be provided to parents or used for certification as part of a formal examination course.

Summative assessment gives pupils, parents and teachers valuable information about a pupil’s overall performance at a specific point in their learning. It provides information about their progress in:

  • subject knowledge;
  • understanding; and
  • skills and capabilities.

A grade or percentage can indicate a pupil’s rank in the class, year group or performance in a qualification such as a GCSE. However, without additional information this grade is of little value in improving the pupil’s learning and will remain only a record of a point in time.

The key to improving learning is for teachers to share with pupils what these grades or numbers mean in terms of what the pupil has demonstrated they can do and what the next steps to improve their learning will be. Therefore, to be genuinely worthwhile, it is helpful to the pupil if summative assessments are also interpreted formatively before moving on.