ATT: informed by formative and summative assessment


In the IB, the approaches to teaching (ATT) skills are linked to our pedagogy which goes beyond what and how we teach and encompasses how we support, develop and interact with our students -- it is a teaching style. To ensure we are the best educators we can be, we need to identify our own strengths and areas for development and participate in continuous professional learning. Reflecting on our own practice, collaborating with peers from the wider IB community and communicating how and that we are learning is all part of this learning journey.
One of these ATTs is informed by formative and summative assessment. Assessment needs to be used to both assess, monitor and review learning and includes tracking student performance and progress in relation to the Assessment Objectives, content and concepts associated with our own subject and the Core of the IB programme (whether that be MYP, DP, or CP). The formal assessment in the IB Diploma is all summative assessment whether it is the Internal Assessment, final External Assessment or the IB Core. However, tracking student progress in relation to their self-management skills as well as the knowledge and skills required to be successful in these assessments.

The IBO reminds teachers that assessment should be designed to inform the teacher and learner in order to accommodate the needs of the learner. The formative assessment is one which occurs throughout a lesson or unit and may take a variety of forms. A teacher may determine what students know by question and answer formats, checklists, or by paper and pencil assignments. Likewise, games such as Kahoot and Jeopardy may assist in similar data collection. The informed teacher can utilize the results of the formative assessment to re-engage or to modify the teaching plans to meet the individual needs of the students. (

Tips for Using this ATT in your IB Classroom

  • Formative assessments do not contribute to the student’s term grade but are used to inform them and us of their strengths and deficiencies in terms of understanding and application of course content and skills.
  • Arrange formative assessment opportunities for every week of the course to ensure that students’ areas for development are not missed.
  • Summative assessments contribute to the student’s term grade so measure where students are against a benchmark, so in our case the IB Levels.
  • The outcomes of both formative and summative assessments should be discussed at the termly one to one meeting you have with students.
  • The outcomes of both formative and summative assessments should be used to plan the next section of work e.g. does key content or concepts need to be revisited? Is the pace of the course appropriate? Are there sufficient scaffolding and extension activities to allow students’ to achieve across the range of levels?

As you are preparing your lesson plans, think about yourself as the classroom teacher and the individual students you have in your classes. What types of formative assessment and summative assessment activities can you do to show the learning process in your classroom, instead of creating a class where right answers are the ending goal?

Specific Classroom Examples

Group 1: Language and Literature
Use assessments to improve student learning, not punish behavior. For reading quizzes, I really like using small group quizzes. This way the students are talking to each other to get the right answer to the quiz question. I have them use one piece of paper with all their names on it, and then students have to agree to the right answer through discussion and debate. This is a great activity that goes beyond just assessing what they know and becomes a learning process for students.

Group 4: Experimental Sciences
Meeting with the department teaching team on a regular basis and discussing teaching and learning strategies that worked or did not can be a good way to ensure that effective learning is taking place. This will give you more ideas on effective assessments.