Whilst formative feedback is used as a tool for regular evaluation of achievement or to look at and set up methods to stem the areas where students need to make improvement, summative feedback is just as crucial and should be used in conjunction with formative assessment to give a rounded picture of learning rather than purely on its own.
Summative feedback can be used just as effectively as formative feedback as there are a number of tools and processes for obtaining the data and information regarding the learning which has taken place.
The main characteristics of summative feedback are the parallel alignment of assessment, the curriculum, teaching and reliable and standardised assessment methods. Summative feedback will give a clear picture of the final learning outcome as long as initial objectives were clearly communicated and these can all be linked together for a comprehensive future planning tool.
Effective summative feedback tools:
End of term or course tests, exams or projects
An exam board provided or school-designed test to reflect on the initially outlined learning objectives will give the teacher information about each student and how they have either succeeded or failed at these stated objectives.
It is important that a test provided by the school is rigorous and well-designed to be able to give a full and clear fit for purpose picture of the situation as a poorly-produced test will not help with assessment and in some situations could lead to issues such as students who need extra support not being identified or even that achieving students are seen as failing due to a poorly worded test.
This method of feedback also gives teachers, observers and school leaders an indication of the level of teaching practice taking place; if there is a high percentage of failure there should be self-reflection by the teacher and discussion with school leaders regarding the need for any extra support or training and a high percentage of success should be shared with teaching peers as an example of excellent teaching.
Overall school and individual class student success is ultimately based on exam outcomes and exam testing and qualification grades. Grades give a specific indication on the level of achievement of a student and whether they have met the criteria of the course or subject.
Portfolios are an excellent way to give summative feedback and assessment when used as an evaluation of learning. The portfolio can either be one which has been formulated over a specific time period and includes formative feedback as part of the assessment process or can be one-off projects based on their previous learning and used to evaluate their understanding and level of effective study against learning objectives.
Summative feedback is an excellent tool which when used correctly can not only measure individual student success, but can be utilised to evaluate teaching practice and make improvements to the curriculum offering which matches the requirements of the students.