Summative Assessments are Teaching Always Actions

 In Tips for Teachers

Summative Assessments. The Teaching ALWAYS Actions are ‘must do’ behaviors or essential teaching practices teachers must do every day in their classrooms to ensure students are engaged and therefore, learning. See earlier posts about the Teaching ALWAYS Actions from last week at Action 1: Procedures, Action 2: Targets, Action 3: Practice, and Action 4: Feedback.

Action 5: Summative Assessments

Record a grade from a student achievement score applying a well-developed test and/or a performance assessment (both designed and aligned to targets taught) to score student achievement.

Alignment to Evidence-Based Practice: Hattie’s Meta-Analysis Research (2009)

Ask students how they will perform on the test and they can tell you. Set student expectations higher than students set for themselves.

After students practice learning tasks aligned to learning targets while receiving specific feedback, they are ready for the teacher to judge or grade their work. Now teachers need the critical skill of developing good summative assessment tools including tests and performance assessments. Summative measures are included in a student’s grade unlike the formative assessment or “pulse checks” used during practice sessions.


Only data from summative measures are averaged as part of a student’s final grade. Within a 30 day time period, teachers plan segments of instruction that include scaffolds of learning targets. Teachers create tools to use for summative purposes at the end of each instructional segment. This occurs after students practice the skill the teacher intends to measure. When designing or evaluating existing summative assessment tools, one must keep this purpose in mind. That is, just as learning targets scaffold instruction, summative assessment tools must evaluate student learning on the major blocks or segments of instruction along the way.

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Hattie, John. (2009). Visible Learning: A Synthesis of Over 800 Meta-Analyses Relating to Achievement. New York, NY: Routledge.

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