1.1 Summative assessment
Traditionally, one of the primary purposes of summative assessment has been for selection. Many will associate assessment in music education with formal examinations, such as A Levels or GCSEs, or instrumental and vocal grade examinations or, perhaps, music competitions and auditions. The results of these assessments were then used by others, either directly (for example in the case of auditions) or indirectly (in the case of examination marks/grades) to decide who should gain entry to bands, choirs, colleges or universities, etc.
These examinations/auditions, along with assessments such as end-of-term ‘tests’ and end-of-year examinations or assessment at the end of particular projects or modules, are all examples of summative assessment or ‘assessment of learning’ (AoL). Summative assessment is used to provide a snapshot of what a student has achieved in their learning (at its best it will show what they know, understand and can do) at a particular point in time in relation to specific and pre-defined criteria. It is assessment that looks back over what has been achieved.