Do you allow students to retake assessments? Do you allow them to correct to earn credit back? I have done both and I there are pros and cons for each. Not allowing students the opportunity to learn from their mistakes and improve demonstrates to the student that the information was not important enough to learn. Yes, I’ve heard ALL the arguments. What if they simply didn’t prepare, why should they get another chance? What if they are gone all the time? I spent this time preparing a test, whey should they get to waste my time again? How many second chances do you get? Most people get A LOT! And when it comes to learning, we know not everyone learns at the same time in the same way. We don’t know everything that goes on in the life of our students. They deserve grace and the opportunity to learn. Our job is not to be gradekeepers, our job is to help students become thinkers and problem solvers.
Retaking an assessment allows students to work through the problems they did not understand and actually learn how to do them. If a student makes a simple mistake, I allow them to work with me 1:1 and earn the credit back for that problem. If a student lack conceptual understanding then we need to spend more time on it and they need to demonstrate their understanding again.
Pros: A retake gives the students that opportunity to review their misconceptions and demonstrate understanding. I allow students to earn full credit on a retake.
If you are overwhelmed with the amount of work you are doing, not as many students will retake an assessment. (I put this in pro for teacher but it is a con for students)
Cons: These are usually done outside the class period. This places a burden on the student and their family. They may have to miss a practice, miss work, or arrange for an alternative ride home. A retake can be viewed as a privileged opportunity and this practice may be creating inequity in your classroom. If possible, try to provide opportunities within the school day for this too happen to reduce inequity.
Students may also have test anxiety. A retake does not alleviate this anxiety and may actually cause more.
If structured correctly, test corrections allow students to reflect on their misconceptions and correct the problem. I give full credit back for my test corrections (see document below).
Pros: Everyone can have the same opportunity to correct their assessments. It can be completed in class or as an outside assignment.
Cons: This will be more work for everyone involved. Students may still need to work with you if they don’t understand how to do something so this will require time inside or outside the classroom. You will probably have more students participate in corrections (once again, con for teachers, pro for students). Students may also be tempted to have someone else give them the answers to the corrections. I let my students know that they will be conferencing with me and should be able to explain any work they have on their test corrections. If I think a students has not learned from their misconceptions (i.e. copied work from someone else), I will give them an opportunity to work with me outside the school day on the information. Yes, it’s more work for both of us, but I want my students to think and learn.
When I allow test corrections, I have the students complete the form below. It requires them to reflect on why they missed the problem, rework the problem, then work another problem that is similar. We talk about what would be acceptable answers and what would not earn them their credit back. I also have examples written in the document.
Students really like test corrections. It alleviates some of the anxiety and I feel like their reflections are better than when they retake the assessment. So how does this prepare them for the standardized tests they will be required to take? Hopefully it has helped them THINK about the math and not just DO the math. But honestly, I don’t want to prepare then for a test, I want to prepare them to think critically about anything they encounter. If they can think critically they will be more successful on assessments and math they encounter in life.
Have I resorted to test retakes over test corrections when I’m short on time? Yes! Is it better than not allowing students to learn from their misconceptions at all? Yes! I am trying to be more aware of inequities in my classroom and providing equal opportunities for all students. This requires me to restructure some of my practices so I do better. Test corrections are a way to do this. Hopefully you are on the same journey of reflection and inclusion and hopefully this retake form helps you too.