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It is important that for students to succeed in a class that we ensure that students are summative assessment capable. Summative assessments are high risk, graded items that gauge a students progress against an often standardized learning goal (Dixson & Worrell, 2016). To be considered assessment capable, students should be aware of their current level of understanding, feel confident in their learning path, seek feedback, monitor their own progress, and can teach others what they’re learning (NSW Government, 2022). 

Incorporating formative assessments specifically into a lesson plan allows both students and faculty to quickly identify if a student is, in fact, assessment capable. Formative assessments allow for extensive flexibility, making them ideal for experimenting with differentiating assessments for students of all learning types and abilities. Formative assessments are regular assessment items that establish clear learning goals and gauge students where they are at on the scale of meeting that goal (Dixson & Worrell, 2016). As part of formative assessments, instructors include detailed feedback to the student in low risk (typically ungraded) scenarios to allow students to more effectively identify their material comprehension and problematic areas prior to engaging in higher risk, graded item like a summative assessment (Fairfax Network, 2013). An example of a formative assessment would be a gamified quiz, such as a simulated Jeopardy game with trivia consisting of the lesson content. A summative assessment, on the other hand, could be a graded research essay on the specified lesson topic. 

It is important that an instructor consider differentiated approaches to the way that they are designing their assessments.  Students that are more partial to a specific style of learning may struggle to exhibit their understanding depending on how the assessment is structured (Tomlinson & Moon, n.d.). Providing diverse options of completion within the assessment to display a student’s mastery of a concept is ideal. For example, providing options to create a PowerPoint slide for visually dependent learners to show the stages of the water cycle rather than just an essay explaining the stages. Incorporating these differentiated options early in formative assessments is particularly helpful, as it helps both the student and instructor better understand how they can better approach their summative assessment later on.