- August 23, 2018 at 9:38 AM #51615
Our school does not have an official, school-wide policy on if or when a student is permitted to redo a test or quiz that did not go well. What do you do? Should we have the same policy for all classes? Should we average the two test results or only count the second/best score? How does a set-in-stone policy against redoing tests allow for a student who wasn’t feeling well to prove what he actually knows? Should we ever allow for a student to redo a test? Any input on this topic is appreciated as I really don’t know what to think! Thanks.
- August 23, 2018 at 5:53 PM #51616
Students should definitely be allowed to redo tests. Drivers test, FAA pilots certification, mechanics licences, bar exams, MCAT (medical school entrance exam), PRAXIS (US teacher certification exam), and CPA exams are all allowed to be redone for full credit. Our goal should be for the student to become proficient in whatever area they are studying. If I say, “you failed this exam but too bad for you because we have more material to cover and need to keep moving” we are essentially saying that my material isn’t very important. It can’t be important if the student doesn’t have to learn it. If “your material” can only be learned for a short period of time and then their are other things to “cover” you have a weak argument. Who says adding two digit numbers has to be learned in two weeks in the middle of October? If a student realizes that they should have studied harder, then it shouldn’t matter what time of the school year it is. What is important is that they learned the material.
To avoid the problem of students thinking, “I’ll just wing it because if I get a bad grade I can just retake the exam” I have various hoops the students need to jump through. These are situationally dependent and include: writing a study guide of what you will study and when and how your going to do it, taking the test during lunch break, giving the second test in a different format (the first test may have been multiple choice but the second one could be an essay).
In response to averaging two test grades I would advise that you use only the second exam. Suppose I don’t know some material and get a 50% on my first test, then I study and learn the material and get a 100% on the second test. Now what grade should I get? I should be graded on how much of the material I know. All 100%. Why should I get a grade that tells me I know 75% of the material when I actually just proved to you that I know all 100%. Some people may interject and say, yea but the dock in percentage teaches them to be studious and responsible. If you want to “punish” them some way for not being studious and responsible you may, you just can’t do it by docking their grade. A students grade measures what they know, not how many presents they bring you, or if they are studious. That should be reported separately. Suppose you fail your drivers test the first time and ace it the second. The state (or province or queen or whoever issues your driver’s licences) doesn’t say that you have to be off the road by dark and are limited to driving 50 kph (not all Americans are illiterate in the superior système international). They trust the validity of the test.
- August 23, 2018 at 11:08 PM #51617
In my seventh and eighth grade class I have rarely given a student a test to retake. Our high school teachers do some retesting in some classes, but I prefer that they give an average of the two tests. Teachers have given credit for corrections done to a test. Another option we have used is giving the student an opportunity to do extra credit work to lift a grade. I think it is important that the original grade in some way stays as part of their grade.
I have observed that tests often show us what they are intended to show us.
1. They show what the student’s ability is. If the student lacks ability he may benefit from a retest. The student may benefit more from keeping the grade and using other work/tasks/projects within his ability to bring his score up.
2. They show what the student’s effort is. If a student has not put forth the effort to do well they deserve to get the grade they were given. Often with these students their test answers mirror the same quality of answers in the rest of their work.
My observation is that for one reason or another the student received the grade they deserved, so is it honest to give multiple retakes without taking the first grade into account.
- August 24, 2018 at 5:12 PM #51633
In response to Travis’ last question… it is absolutely fair/honest to only take into account the students retake. This last test defines how much the student knows. Suppose you got a new job. You wouldn’t want your pay to be set based on your performance the first day. As you get more proficient your pays goes up. Same thing for grades. Another example is of a student doing track and field. Suppose the run the mile in 6 minutes the first time, 5 minutes the second time, and 4 minutes the last time. What time would they get? Obviously they would go on the score sheet as having ran it in 4 minutes. We would never average their time to 5 minutes; same thing for grades. If a students test consists entirely of knowing their 5’s multiplication family and they get them all right the second time they shouldn’t get anything other than 100% in the grade book. You might give them other consequences for not doing it on time, but that can’t ethically affect their grade.
- August 25, 2018 at 7:27 PM #51637
I’m thinking that there may be two different main reasons why students fail tests and quizzes. On one side you have the student who, despite a lot of effort, does not understand the material; or he has missed some necessary classes for an unavoidable reason; or the teacher did not teach the material that the test covers; or the test is a bad test. On the other side you have the student who puts as little effort into school work (or certain subjects) as he can get by with. He fails the test because he hasn’t completed homework, paid attention in class, spent time studying, or turns in tests with “don’t know” written in the blanks.
For the first type of student I have no problem with re-doing tests and quizzes. Ideally, you as the teacher will already know this student is struggling and will have addressed the problem before the test.
For the second type of student, unless they can show they desire to raise their test score and are willing to put effort into it, I would not just “give them a second chance”. Too many times it is the teacher (and sometimes the parents) who are trying to make this work and the student is the reluctant receiver who is not learning responsibility.
Tests should show how well the material has been mastered. However, sometimes they also show the lack of responsibility a student has. If a test is retaken, it should not just be a copy of the alternate test in the back of the teacher guide, without the student needing to put effort into pulling up his grade.
- August 25, 2018 at 10:13 PM #51638
I think you are bringing some clarity to the question, Carolyn. There are times when I know the test results do not accurately reflect the student’s understanding. Some bomb a test because of a late night, or an allergy, or because they freeze up on tests. In these cases I easily give them a second chance. On the other hand when a child pulls a low score and it actually reflects their typical level of work, while I will work very hard to do my part in granting them a better understanding, I still do want the report card to accurately reflect how things are.
Then too I have had students who were struggling with concepts, but working hard to get a better grip. In these cases too I easily offer them the chance to retake but leave it up to them because effort is an important part of the learning process. It has happened that a student in this category voluntarily asked to retake the test (a form B covering the same kind of material but with different problems); that delighted me for I saw in that request the diligence needed to learn the concepts. The fact that they were wanting to put the extra work into the retake told me the serious effort put into it. All that said, I add that retakes in my classroom are the exception, not a regular occurrence.
We will be judged by our faithfulness (or lack thereof) and that is what I strive to aim for in school work too. So a student sliding through and feeling fine with a 90% because it happens to higher than his classmates (who are working harder than he is) when he really could pull a 98% is not being faithful.
- August 26, 2018 at 12:20 AM #51639
It’s nice to see such a vigorous discussion here. I’ve very rarely allowed students to retake tests, and when I have I’ve usually given a grade averaged from the two attempts, but Brian’s argument is highly persuasive. It’s given me a lot to chew on.
I strongly agree that tests and grades measure learning, period. (Or that’s how it should be, anyway.) Ability and effort are relevant only to the extent that they have resulted in learning.
But it sticks in my craw a bit to think of disrupting the system by allowing routine test redos. There’s something to be said for requiring students to demonstrate their learning within the system’s constraints. If the learning/grades are insufficient, the system has a remedy: retaking the course.
This is important because resources are limited, and in my experience most students will generally receive the greatest benefit by maximizing current performance rather than trying to fix the deficiencies of the past. I had one student who was talented, hardworking, and motivated to get the best possible grades. Like many students he did well in some subjects and struggled in others. He wanted his C’s to be A’s or at least B’s, and his A’s to be A-plusses, and he was always asking if there was any way he could improve his grade on this or that test or if there was anything he could do for extra credit. If I had let him he would have spiralled endlessly in pursuit of marginal improvements to last month’s work, to the detriment of today’s work (not to mention his overall well-being). This was an extreme example, but it illustrates the point.
But deep down I suspect that my devotion to the system is really a fear that change would be inconvenient for me. There’s something almost Orewellian about the very notion of “demonstrat[ing] their learning within the system’s constraints,” as if people should also demonstrate wisdom, faithfulness, or love within the system’s constraints. (That must be a pretty outstanding system.) Surely we can develop some flexibility here.
- August 28, 2018 at 10:17 AM #51655
Thank you everybody for your input into this question! I see there are varying views on this matter and good arguments on every side. I will discuss it further with the staff at my school and we will see if we can come up with a policy. Thank you!
- August 29, 2018 at 3:48 PM #51668
I have a simple question. Where do you put remediating and retesting, for students who need it, on your daily/weekly schedule?
- September 1, 2018 at 8:09 PM #51840
Usually they have to come to me and get it during a study hall. They might also have to do it over their lunch break. Another option is to come early one morning. This aids the complications they need to work through to get a retest.
- September 3, 2018 at 9:28 AM #51844
So until that retest is taken, does that student continue class as normal; especially if remediation is necessary?
- September 5, 2018 at 1:27 PM #51851
At the high school level there is not a lot of students who need remediation. For the ones who do I like to use differentiated instruction when I can. e.g. changed homework load, #number of problems) In my math classes I give classworks at the end of nearly every class. They have problems on them from that day, if someone needs more help I can do it while the rest are all working on that. I also have a free period everyday that I can help some people in study hall.
- September 18, 2018 at 7:09 PM #52028
The discussion on test/retesting, scoring, and averaging turns on two disparate questions…
a. What information or skill has the student mastered?
b. How does the student routinely apply himself to his work?
I hear many employers wishing they could find employees who are strong in (b). If only they could hire people who will actually show up for work, apply themselves, and work, they can teach the necessary job skills, which may require some (a).
Somehow, our grading must include results showing (b). If not, we could well graduate students with all the (a) but still unemployable.
So, a big question is…are we satisfied to post grades that show what a student does know and can do(if he wants to) on a test? Or does the grading also include a factor showing what a student does do, routinely?
- September 19, 2018 at 9:09 AM #52029
Mark A. Miller@markmiller
I like that response Jonas, in our restaurant we currently employ a waitress that has very good people skills, and if motivated by the possibility of a good tip she does great. However at the moment she is at great risk of losing her job because of her lack of applying her knowledge and skills consistently. Her performance on the job is measured primarily by her application of knowledge.
- September 22, 2018 at 9:27 PM #52064
I thought of this discussion a week ago when an excellent student, who had gotten a 100% on the two previous math tests surprised us both (became I’m guessing simply overly confident and careless) by getting a pretty low score on this third test. Since the grade really did not reflect his regular daily performance nor his level of understanding, I did have him redo (a form B) and averaged the tests. I guess that is still one way I try to include the (b) Jonas referred to in his reply. It feels right to me to have how the student applies the learned knowledge count as part of the final outcome.
- September 22, 2018 at 11:26 PM #52069
It’s okay for a normally high flying student to have an occasional low score. That’s life.
At our school it’s simple. No redos unless it’s a fail (below 80%) on a test. If it’s failed the student must redo within 2 days. The grade recorded is the average of the failed test and the passed one, but never higher than 80%.
- September 23, 2018 at 5:37 PM #52070
In response to Jonas’ question … we should definitely include both. However, should they be included in the same number? I think it is better to report them separately. We have the grade that shows how much a student know about x, and then over here we report how much effort and work went into that. Doing it this way is more informative for the student and their parents. If poor work ethic lowers a students grade by 10% the parents won’t really know why their child is getting low grades. Reporting them separately allows us to work on the good attitude/work ethic.
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