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Does offering test retakes help or enable students.....?

Becky Cudini

I am teaching eighth grade science and working in a middle school setting for the first time. My school is big on students mastering material, as a result many teachers offer students the opportunity to retake tests/quizzes.

At the beginning I did not offer my students that opportunity but then began to feel pressure from students colleagues, and parents. Of course, being new to the grade level and building, I caved! I want all my students to be successful but sometimes I feel like some of the students take advantage of the it. I personally am worried that it will set them up for future failure when they are not able to have such opportunities. Some students do better, some do worse, and some do the same. I do make them do corrections in order to do a retake but still some do terrible or don't come to see me for help. I also feel like parents and students are always looking for an exception, extra credit, etc. instead of working towards being better students, learning through consequences and preparing to be self-sufficient adults!

I would love to hear input from other educators.

Comments (69)

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Retesting can help with

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Retesting can help with students with a real FEAR FACTOR for testing. Sometimes the 2nd time is alot less stressful. Knowing what you are up against.
This is really true for math.

I have long resisted retakes,

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I have long resisted retakes, but I offered "1/2 points back" on corrections. The key for me was to make them explain why their answer was wrong, what the right answer is, why it is correct, and how/where they found it. Also, I didn't want the tests to leave my room, so I made them come in before/after school or at lunch to do this. I started giving full points back when a colleague of mine, an AP psychology teacher, told me this story. He had a student in AP psych who loved the class, but failed every test. He came in and did the "test make up" work for every single test. At the end of the year, he passed the AP test. It sounds like that student just needed more time to learn.

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I hope this helps!
Holly

Psicology

That's more work, but greater

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That's more work, but greater commitment to teaching.

test retakes

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I allow students to re-take tests if they received a grade below a 70%. The re-take is not going to be the same test but it may be very similiar. Sometimes I will simply rearrange the questions and other times I will give them a different way to take the test. If the first test is a multiple choice test, I may rearrange the retake into a matching test or even a short answer. Sometimes it may even be a essay question or two. Occasionally, it is easier for a student to explain what they know in an essay rather than just a mulitple choice test.

This should just be a part of

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This should just be a part of the testing cycle. Correct your mistakes and learn from them.If you had an especially low score, then schedule a retake after you have corrected.Correcting our mistakes is a life skill, so is asking when you are uncertain, relearning when you don't get it the first time etc.
I truly think thought that ALL students need to have the option. An A student doesn't look at a B and celebrate the learning they did to get there. They want and deserve to correct for points if they choose to. Those who score under the set level should have this as a demand but those who did well shouldn't be limited either. They need to correct mistakes and look at them so they can clarify their own misconceptions.

Educational Consultant/Author, Southern California

Parent Contact: Essential

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Kudos to you for implementing parent communication. That is important support for the student. I agree that their grades should not be more than 60% Why try the first time if the retake will cause you to get a great grade?
I have seen retakes implemented in math classes more than ELA. Why is that, do you think?

middle school math teacher, bergen county, nj

I agree with you; I am not a

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I agree with you; I am not a proponent of re-takes. It seems that it reduces the need to prepare timely for scheduled events. In real life, how many of us get a chance to do a re-take? I fear that this strategy is going to create a generation of learned helplessness.

In real life how many

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In real life how many situations are there when you are told "do your own work, don't look at anyone else's work, don't ask a neighbor for help, don't help your coworker, don't use any extra resources besides your memory, and if you get something wrong, your pay will be docked and there will be no second chance?"

HS Science Teacher from NJ

I have also been on the fence

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I have also been on the fence about test retakes for a number of years. This year I have more students struggling with my class then ever before. I teach AP Biology and the new curriculum from the College Board requires a different level of understanding then had previously been expected. Students who normally would have done well, because they are very good at memorizing, are finding that the course is not what they had expected. I love the new curriculum, and think it does a wonderful job of pushing students to truly understand, rather then just memorize.
Due to the struggles this year, I implemented corrections on an occasional basis. I don't have a set number grade that must be achieved, although that is something I considering for next year. When I do allow corrections, I tell them that they need to know the material for the AP Exam. They are allowed to make up questions for up to half credit. They must do it during their time - lunch, study hall or after school. It can't be done at home. They must sit with a text, in my classroom, and document when they got wrong, what the right answer is, where their mistake in logic was, and on what page the correct answer is. If all of these parts are not done, they do not get the points back. I don't allow it on everything or every test. There are times when I know the class didn't prepare for a test. In that case, there are no corrections offered. If the material isn't particularly difficult, but a break was approaching, I am reasonably confident that there was just a breakdown in effort, and I won't reward that.
I agree with everyone who mentioned that the real world doesn't work like this. Most jobs there are no do-overs, and I don't want to contribute to a future where society has been enabled all of their lives to do half-efforts. However, sometimes learning takes time. I am moving towards a "mastering" philosophy in a flipped classroom (small steps!) and so I think allowing test retakes is inching my way.

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