Authoring Summative Assessments

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David Spencer's Education Paragon is a free educational resource portal helping David Spencer's secondary school students, their parents and teaching colleagues with understanding, designing, applying and delivering assessment, curriculum, educational resources, evaluation and literacy skills accurately and effectively. This wiki features educational resources for Indigenous Aboriginal education, field trips for educators, Davids Music Jam, law and justice education, music education and outdoor, environmental and experiential education. Since our web site launch 10.5 years ago on September 27, 2006, online site statistics and web rankings indicate there are currently 1,868 pages and 11,682,604 page views using 7.85 Gig of bandwidth per month. Pages are written, edited, published and hosted by Brampton, Ontario, Canada based educator David Spencer. On social media, you may find David as @DavidSpencerEdu on Twitter, as DavidSpencerdotca on Linkedin.com and DavidSpencer on Prezi. Please send your accolades, feedback and resource suggestions to David Spencer. Share on social media with the hashtag #EducationParagon


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Introduction to Authoring Summative Assessments

This document was prepared in order to provide some guidelines to help an educator author a summative assessment for a secondary school course.

The format for your summative assessment must meet Ministry of Education expectations and follow their guidelines. The summative assessment that you prepare for your students could be:

  • a written examination
  • an oral examination
  • a final report in written, video, web page or audio format

Considerations when choosing your format: 1) the amount of work for the students 2) the skills and strengths of your students 3) the attendance patterns of your students

For example: An in-class research report assessment can be completed over a number of classes.

Leave room for students to write on the exam paper, unless using lined paper is unavoidable.

Assessments can be on 8.5x11 or 8.5x14 size paper, but should be printed on one side of the paper.

Reading materials or resources needed for the assessment can be attached at the back of the exam so that it can be removed from assessment package.


Who Writes?

All students in our courses must write the final summative assessment for each course. According to our Staff Manual (page 122), there will be no exemptions from completing a final evaluation for a course. Students who miss a scheduled final assessment or examination with an absence approved by the administration for medical or compassionate reasons must complete the evaluation at an alternative time. Unapproved, unaccounted for absences will result in a mark of zero in a final evaluation.

Students must have completed all 10 units before they write the final assessment.

You should always write assessments that you have authored before your students write. This will help you in ensuring that the assessment is clear and concise. Having a colleague read through your assessment is a good idea.

Students who are in locations that prevent them from attending the assessment could find someone to supervise their exam. As alternative teachers, we could send the exam to be proctored.

Why have a Summative Assessment?

The summative assessment shows that the student has learned the course material and understands the curriculum requirements.

The summative also reveals whether the presentation of unit work was effective. Coursework is always "live" and can be improved.



Course Material Considerations

If you are going to use textbooks for the assessment, then students will need to return their textbooks with lots of lead-time before the assessment.



Types of Questions

(multiple choice, short answer, definitions, essay etc.)

Multiple Choice

Remember you are testing on content and communication - not creating a struggle for student understanding. Make sure questions are clear and concise.

Multiple choice answers can be listed alphabetically if one-word answers


Marking Scheme

Your summative assessment should contain information and learning from the following assessments throughout the course. (page 123 of Staff Handout)

  • Knowledge and Understanding
  • Communication
  • Thinking and Inquiry/Problem Solving
  • Application and Making Connections

You may want to weight your categories based on how coursework was weighted.

Course marks are separated accordingly: 70% is unit work 30% culminating unit/summative assessment

Questions should feature marks beside them so that students understand how many marks each question is worth and this will assist you when marking later.



How to Prepare Students to Write a Summative Assessment

Students do not always have to complete questions in the order they are listed on the exam. Some may do better with certain types of questions and may choose to do those questions first.

Encourage students to attempt answers that they do not know. Any mark is better than no mark.



How to Mark a Summative Assessment

When creating the exam, assign marks with codes that correspond to the categories for ease of marking.

Multiple Choice questions are easier to mark and you can get assistance with this.



How Provide Feedback to a Student on Their Summative Assessment

Many students have had negative assessment experience. Going over the assessment with students and providing strategies for future assessments helps students succeed at the assessment process. This meeting also provides closure to the course.

An exit interview will allow students the opportunity to voice the positive and negative experiences in the course and provides the teacher will valuable feedback for future teaching.



Additional Resources

To add a resource, please contact David.