Summative Assessment


Summative assessment, similar to formative assessment, is a process. It is used to infer the level of individual student learning related to the mastery of specific content standards.  Products like essays, projects and tests, and processes such as observations and conferences are some common tools used to gather the evidence needed for teachers to be able to infer mastery.

When summative assessment is designed within the UDL framework, student data is gathered using a variety of materials and methods, both when presenting assessment information to students and when students show what they know. In strong UDL classrooms a variety of formative and summative assessments are used by the learner throughout the learning cycle.  (UDL-IRN Critical Elements, 2013)

UDL assessments are also free of unnecessary requirements that interfere with the student’s ability to demonstrate content knowledge. For example, good UDL science or social studies assessments use simple directions or offer a text to speech option so that test items can be read aloud, thereby reducing reading barriers so students can focus on the science or social studies content being assessed. Removing performance barriers while maintaining the relevant construct of the content is a hallmark of UDL assessment. 

UDL Summative Assessment: Guidelines

Multiple Means of Representation   

  • Provide digital formats of assessments (allows text to be manipulated, text-to-speech software to be used)
  • Allow students to utilize resources (ex. “open-book” assessment)
  • Simplify directions
  • Clarify vocabulary and symbols
  • Illustrate through multimedia

Action and Expression

  • Allow alternatives to traditional assessments and quizzes for students to express or demonstrate their learning (written and oral assessments, recorded responses, illustrations, diagrams, etc.)
  • Provide clear expectations and feedback
  • Provide assessment embedded in the learning activities
  • Include an explicit description (rubric) of the criteria for quality work
  • Provide support for sustaining effort
  • Provide checklists and project planning templates for understanding the problem, setting up prioritization, sequences, and schedules of steps

Multiple Means of Engagement                                                                                                     

  • Offer choices of assessment related to topic and presentation mode
  • Provide adjustable levels of challenge in type of assessments provided
  • Provide authentic, task based assessment
  • Reduce threat by removing time testing constraints
  • Reduce emphasis on grades

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Beyond Quizzes and Exams: Performance Tasks

Social Studies:  Assessing 21st Century Skills with Library of Congress Documents


Performance Assessment Links in Sciences

The Concord Consortium

Finding Alternate Tools to Support Summative Assessment

High stakes assessment and UDL



Teachers talk about creating UDL assessments. 


© Macomb ISD Susan Hardin 2013