In middle schools, testing is everywhere, but it’s often more challenging to find good examples of effective assessment. Educators classify assessment into two broad categories: formative and summative. We’ll explore the difference between formative and summative assessment with examples.
Formative assessment and summative assessment differ in their goals and application. Instructors carry out formative assessments throughout the term, and their primary purpose is to act as a vehicle for feedback. Formative assessment allows you and your students to see what students have already mastered and what still needs more practice. It can also be a tool for practice.
Summative assessment’s main aim is to get a holistic snapshot of the learner’s achievement throughout the grading period or year. Instructors carry out summative assessment in specific increments, such as at the end of each unit or the end of the semester. Sometimes, the summative assessment also includes a pre-test at the beginning of the term, and then you can compare the summative results to a benchmark or “starting point.”
There are many different ways to do effective formative assessment in middle school, and most of these methods fall into four broader categories: questioning, feedback, peer assessment, and self-assessment.
Questioning is an assessment method that involves asking students questions and serves two main functions.
You can also use questioning as a vehicle for feedback; it is beneficial for helping students understand how and why their answer is incorrect. Questioning allows students to arrive at answers on their own, leading to learning that transfers further.
Feedback is an integral part of formative assessment, as long as you do it effectively. The best feedback happens promptly and in an appropriate context. Give feedback as soon as possible so students can absorb feedback better.
You should also contextualize feedback. You can contextualize feedback by showing your students their grades according to the rubric or by using examples of student work and demonstrating exactly where they met (or failed to meet) the criteria and standards.
Peer assessment is a great way to get students involved and motivated in their formative assessment. Seeing their work alongside their peers can motivate students by giving them a real-life example of the expectations in addition to the ideal expectations laid out in a rubric or example from the teacher.
Peer assessment can go beyond the simple trade-and-grade. For example, you can give students a list of guiding questions to ask their partner(s) regarding their assignment or output. Or, you can give each student an unmarked rubric copy and ask them to target its components in their peer’s paper.
Self-assessment is an excellent tool because it relies on both cognitive and metacognitive strategies to complete. This means that students recall experiences and knowledge from the course and reflect on the underlying thought processes and affective elements.
For effective self-assessment, you should provide students with the criteria or standards you use to grade their output. This could be a rubric or examples of adequate, inadequate, and stellar work. Then, encourage students to look closely at their work and compare. Plus, offering a list of guiding questions can help focus the students’ attention on the key components of their output.
Common formative assessment examples include:
Common summative assessment examples include:
You can use quiz-building software such as Google Forms and Quizziz to do summative assessments online. These authoring tools allow you to add many different types of questions (like multiple choice, short- or long-form paragraph responses, and fill-in-the-blank) to check your students’ overall understanding of the materials presented in class.
There are a lot of apps that can help with assessment online. But it’s hard to find a versatile assessment tool that can cover all of your bases. TeacherMade offers robust assignment creation that fills many roles in your classroom. You can use TeacherMade to: