January 03, 2012

Summative Assessment

I have never been someone who has kept a diary or a thought log before; therefore this medium is an unusual step for me. However, I have been impressed by the written thoughts of my peers and having spoken to Cathie Zara, I believe this will ultimately support my learning.

Our first assignment examined summative assessment, an area which I feel closely connected to since my area of teaching ICT relies on summative assessment. From Access courses (10 weeks) to OCR Nationals ICT (one year) and Foundation Degree in Business (two years). Summative Assessment is present and imperative to my students, often in a ‘high stakes’ situation. It may that ICT is a particular area of interest since it not only assesses intellectual knowledge, but practical skills.

This assignment has given me insight into my own possible preconceptions of summative assessment and its impact on my learners and the wider educational establishment.

Summative Assessment is assessment of learning rather than the definition of formative which is assessment for learning, however, there are many areas where the two definitions become very blurred. Contradictory to most summative patterns, many of my pupil assessments take place in a much shorter time span and I feel that this model may in the long term be less stressful l to my learners.

According to Willam and Thompson (2008) Educational Assessments have three functions, supporting learning (formative), certifying the achievements or potential of individuals (summative) and evaluating the quality of educational institutions or programs (evaluative). Today, more than ever there are great pressures on students, teachers and institutions to produce results in accordance with government expectations. Raising the bar on summative assessment has caused many to believe that teachers are merely teaching to the test and deny their learners the true educational experience.

With the every changing focus of subject matter in high stakes examinations, students are left bewildered by the changes to examination format whether that be once at the end of the course or assessment in modules throughout the course. Exam boards are being criticised for their rigour and accuracy with regards to what is being assessed and how accurate this is being assessed. In the media recently it has been suggested that some exam boards are much more straight forward than others and without casting assupurtions on the examiners, there have been numerous tales of mistakes, apathy and perhaps in some cases even fraud which has tained the validity of summative assessment. This also crosses over into the educational institutions as it has been reported that they may be choosing a particular exam board due to the ease of their system of accreditation


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