As we were comparing and contrasting formative and summative assessment, I thought of a conversation that I heard between two English Literature professors from a large New England state university several years ago. They were discussing their grading systems. The wife professor said that she only read the first paper that the students wrote, and that whatever grade the student received on the first paper was the grade that she gave the student in the class.
Her justification was that “A” students remained “A” students and “C” students remain “C” students. Her colleague husband stated that in grading papers he threw them down the stairs and the ones that landed the furthest away got an “A”, the closer ones got a “D”, basing his summative assessment on bulk of the work submitted.
It seems to me that students are put in categories of A, B, C students and so forth. Once a student is so branded, it is almost impossible for the assessment to change. Your are born an A, B, or C student and you die as one. Even becoming President of the United States doesn’t change the brand (Bush, the Second “C” student; Carter, “A” student). Technology doesn’t seems to help as it seems most often to facilitate summative rather than formative assessment.