Kalantzis and Cope on Integrating Formative and Summative Assessment

Pellegrino et al. describe the process of reasoning from evidence of learner performance as an ‘assessment triangle’—consisting of three interconnected points: cognition <-> observation <-> interpretation.[1] Using this framework, we compare the process of evidentiary reasoning in classical testing environments, as follows:


Classical Summative Test

Integrated Formative and Summative Assessment of Complex Performance


Individual knowledge, facts and concepts that a learner has committed to long term memory; reasoning processes that can be applied from memory to new scenarios.

Distributed knowledge, facts and concepts a learner can readily access; knowledge created in social relationships of complementary expertise and collaborative intelligence; knowledge as the material of its textual representation rather than inferred student cognition.


The artefact of the test, a peculiar phenomenon which is different from the texts of disciplinary knowledge and the pragmatics of learning delivery; a site of observation at the end of a learning cycle, separated from the learning in time and space.

Direct observation of disciplinary knowledge practice, in the authentic language of the discipline and using its characteristic modes of expression; multi-perspective assessment (e.g. self, peer, teacher); multiple assessment modes (e.g. review, survey, annotation); identity of time and space of learning and assessment.


A highly mediated process of knowledge inference.

Unmediated interpretation of disciplinary practice; there is no definitive cognitive truth beyond the evidence provided in its representation; assessable knowledge is located in its representation by the learner in texts typical of the discipline, not what might be assumed to be in the memory of the learner

[1] Pellegrino, James W., Naomi Chudowsky, and Robert Glaser. 2001. “Knowing what Students Know: The Science and Design of Educational Assessment.” Washington DC: National Academies Press. p. 44.

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