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Summative assessment (or summative evaluation) refers to the assessment of participants, and summarizes their development at a particular time. In contrast to formative assessment, the focus is on the outcome of a program. Summative assessment is characterized as assessment of learning and is contrasted with formative assessment, which is assessment for learning. This is taught in many educational programs in the United States. Scriven claims that while all assessment techniques can be summative, only some are formative.
Summative assessment may be used to identify any areas of weakness, for further investigation through formative assessment.
Summative assessment is used as an evaluation technique in instructional design. It can provide information on an intervention's efficacy (its ability to do what it was designed to do). Summative evaluation judges the worth, or value, of an intervention at its conclusion.
Summative assessment is commonly used to refer to assessment of educational faculty by their respective supervisor.[where?] It is imposed onto the faculty member, and uniformly applied, with the object of measuring all teachers on the same criteria to determine the level of their performance. It is meant to meet the school or district's needs for teacher accountability and looks to provide remediation for sub-standard performance and also provides grounds for dismissal if necessary. The evaluation usually takes the shape of a form, and consists of check lists and occasionally narratives. Areas evaluated include classroom climate, instruction, professionalism, and planning and preparation.
Methods of summative assessment aim to summarize learning at a point in time.