If we assumed performance and learning were identical, formative assessment would be weakened – although not undermined. As John Mason once said, “teaching takes place in time, but learning takes place over time” (Griffin, 1989). The goal of summative assessment is to evaluate student learning at the end of an instructional unit by comparing it against some standard or benchmark. In his post on “Why AfL might be wrong, and what to do about it” David Didau points out (correctly) that it is impossible to assess what students have learned in an individual lesson. Examples of summative assessments include: Although formative assessment is useful for gathering evidence to be used as feedback to improve learner performance, it can also be integral to effective teaching on a day-to-day basis. Summative assessments are often high stakes, which means that they have a high point value. Formative assessment. That’s 1,500 data points per class. In some systems, teachers are meant to continually assess each of the 30 students in a class against 50 statements about what they can or can’t do. Didau’s arguments are a worthy reminder of the difference between learning and performance, but they do not undermine formative assessment.

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