Summative assessment is assessment OF learning, which is often contrasted with assessment FOR learning.  Summative assessments are used to evaluate student learning, the acquisition of identified skills, and/or general academic achievement at the end of a pre-determined period of instruction.  The period of instruction might be a content-based unit, a semester, a school-year, or even the entirety of a high school course of study.  Summative assessments are characterized by three main criteria:

  • They are designed to determine if students successfully met established learning objectives.
  • They are evaluative as opposed to formative or diagnostic because they occur at the end of instruction.
  • The scores on summative assessments are typically recorded and used in some way to measure achievement at some level.


  • Tests designed by teachers or publishers to be given as tests at the end of instructional units or chapters.
  • Tests designed to be given at the end of a course (final exam).
  • Portfolios, projects, or performance assessments in which students demonstrate learned proficiencies at the end of a term or course.
  • Standardized tests used for the evaluation of both schools and individual student achievement (MME , M-STEP, Mi-ACCESS, and the formerly-administered MEAP are examples) or for processes like college admissions (SAT, ACT).