Formative assessment or diagnostic testing is a range of formal and informal assessment procedures employed by teachers during the learning process in order to modify teaching and learning activities to improve student attainment. It typically involves qualitative feedback (rather than scores) for both student and teacher that focus on the details of content and performance. It is commonly contrasted with summative assessment, which seeks to monitor educational outcomes, often for purposes of external accountability.
Summative assessment (or summative evaluation) refers to the assessment of participants, and summarizes their development at a particular time. In contrast to formative assessment, the focus is on the outcome of a program. Summative assessment is characterized as assessment of learning and is contrasted with formative assessment, which is assessment for learning. This is taught in many educational programs in the United States. Scriven claims that while all assessment technique can be summative, only some are formative.