Do you let your students retake tests?

Discussion in 'Elementary Education' started by minnie, Jan 13, 2016.

  1. minnie

    minnie Cohort

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    Does anyone do this? It's for math. I feel like I should give them one more chance.
     
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  3. vickilyn

    vickilyn Magnifico

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    I'm not a huge fan except when it is obvious that a significant portion of the students didn't "get" my teaching. That is on me, so I need to reteach that and then assess to confirm that the material was learned. I suppose it depends on grade level?? I teach HS, and it really eats into my instruction time to test twice. I am a science teacher, not math.
     
  4. jadorelafrance

    jadorelafrance Cohort

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    I don't. Occasionally I allow test corrections, but only under a certain percentage and they only get back a certain amount of points. It depends on if I think the test was super hard and if many students didn't do well. Retaking the test wouldn't show to me that they understand, but that they just went home and memorized the answers. Perhaps allowing retakes but with a new version of the test (different set of problems, same concept) and averaging the two grades would show that the student learned the material, but they're still responsible for knowing the content the first time around.
     
  5. MrsC

    MrsC Multitudinous

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    Sometimes I do, it's very dependent on specific situations. Before a retest, however, they must come in to see me for extra help and the retest is always a different version.
     
  6. a2z

    a2z Maven

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    Yes, there are times they are given. It always requires up front work from the student though.

    A lot of it is mindset. Knowing kids learn at different rates, it encourages the kids to learn these skills because they will be seen over and over in later grades if not later in the year. It is hard to use the justification about kids not all learning at the same rate then turn around and make it no incentive for them to keep at the skill to improve. Grades usually don't do much for the kids that don't learn as rapidly except make them give up when there is no chance to improve.
     
  7. mathmagic

    mathmagic Enthusiast

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    In Elementary here, for context. I am usually doing quick exit tickets after each lesson, which aren't graded but rather for my use to provide enrichment and intervention, then occasionally doing a "quick check" which is weighted extremely low, then at the end of each topic is a topic test, which I then will utilize to determine who I need to work with on that topic still over the upcoming weeks. After that, they'll have a multi-topic test three times over the course of the year, which will return to that topic. So, in a sense, the kids get several tries with plenty of opportunities for me to reteach in the middle. At that point, I don't want them simply "retesting" to get a higher score - I'd rather the next teacher know their struggles, even if perhaps they got it here and there at the end, but weren't at mastery. It's likely very different than high school, where the grades "mean" quite a bit more. Here, a '2' or '2.5' is not going to severely hurt a student unless they're aiming for a pull-out enrichment program.
     
  8. Caesar753

    Caesar753 Multitudinous

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    My previous school required it. I'm not sure if my current school requires it, but it's certainly allowed. (I don't give many tests in my role as a specialist, so that's why I'm not sure about this policy.)

    I do believe in giving students multiple opportunities for success. We all have bad days and make bad decisions sometimes. When a student is willing to and does study for a retake, I'm happy to offer one. I have always required my students to study with me or present evidence that they have studied before I will let them take the retake.

    What I absolutely hate is when a student does not even attempt the first test when it is originally given, usually saying something like, "Well, I'll just do the retake." Then later when the retake is offered, the student has not prepared for that either and still performs poorly. What I see is that in schools where retakes are required/pushed without a similar emphasis on study habits, the tests and the material they cover are devalued. Students often don't care about learning the material in a timely manner because there will always be another chance later--but students rarely actually get around to learning it later.
     
    Last edited: Jan 13, 2016
  9. minnie

    minnie Cohort

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    Thank you all for the replies. I teach kindergarten and we are doing a whole new math curriculum. The math tests are super rigorous for kindergarten. In first grade, these students will not be retested so I feel like I am doing them a disservice by giving them another chance because they will not get it next year. I absolutely see the cons of giving a retake though.
     
  10. Caesar753

    Caesar753 Multitudinous

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    ...But if they don't learn the stuff in K, they're going to start off behind the curve once they get to 1st grade, right? I would think that you'd want to do whatever it took to get them to learn the material, whether that means retakes or something else.
     
  11. mathmagic

    mathmagic Enthusiast

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    In my mind, there's a difference between "retesting" for grades and "reassessing" to determine whether a student still needs reteaching/etc...

    Even on areas that I might've already assessed on, I'm still working with students who haven't mastered content yet, and even if there isn't necessarily a final "make-up test" where they end up scoring higher, I certainly will assess them informally to determine whether my reteaching has led to increased mastery or not. While I'm not an expert by any means (especially in terms of K), I'd focus less on developing opportunities for "retakes" for grades, and focus your efforts on making sure that they somehow eventually gain the essential understandings/foundations so that they have success in 1st grade. The grade itself is nowhere near as big of a deal.
     
  12. a2z

    a2z Maven

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    In the end, the next year teacher needs to know the abilities of the student. What does the student know, where are the holes that aren't yet filled. What is the student ahead of the curve on, etc. If there is nothing that indicates this information or the grades are based on "first tries" but the student mastered the material later it makes the grades or numbers useless.
     
  13. Pashtun

    Pashtun Fanatic

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    Agreed.
    I give weekly or bi-monthy quizzes every Friday. The quizzes are done by standard, so over the course of the year students will take say 5 quizzes on place value, each quiz numbers are changed but format is basically the same. So I do not allow "retakes" but really it is built into my system and supports (IMO) the growth mindset. Students record and graph quiz results in order to see growth over the year. The expectations and goals is growth over time, not the direct result of one quiz or test.
     
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  14. bella84

    bella84 Aficionado

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    I thought we were talking at least third grade here. In K? No way. I'd use the knowledge you gained from the test to plan for interventions and enrichment and then move on. No need to start the test anxiety and anxiety over grades when they're five years old, IMO. I'm honestly surprised you're even giving "tests" in K. I mean, I know they say that "K is the new first grade", but really?!

    For older kids, I'm on board with retakes. I don't do it, and I probably never will (aside from rare exceptions), but I can see why some would. I think this is best reserved for intermediate grades and older though. Not primary.
     
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  15. bella84

    bella84 Aficionado

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    I do agree with mathmagic that there is a difference between "retesting" and "reassessing". I don't see a problem with the latter for K, but maybe that's all about how it's defined and presented to the student.
     
  16. minnie

    minnie Cohort

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    a2z, I agree with you. If I give them a retake every time, then the teacher next year will not be able to see what they students didn't know.

    bella84, there are many, many tests that we give in K and my district test load for K is actually pretty light. Our new math though is very rigorous. I am surprised at what my students can do and they are doing exceptionally well with the exception of a few who really struggle because they are just not ready.

    Once again, thank you for the replies. I decided not to retest because I would be doing the same exact thing but expecting different results. So, I am just going to work with these students one on one as much as I can until they can grasp it.
     
  17. a2z

    a2z Maven

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    That is not exactly what I meant.

    That's not really what I meant. I mean grades, in general, are really meaningless.

    Teacher narratives are really the only thing that will give the true picture. Grades won't tell you much.
     
  18. otterpop

    otterpop Aficionado

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    Minnie, do you give letter grades (A-F), standards based grading, or something else?
     
  19. minnie

    minnie Cohort

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    We give letter grades but they are E-U. E, S, N, and U
     
  20. otterpop

    otterpop Aficionado

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    I'd not let them retake the tests. It would be extra work for you, and hopefully it spirals back around and they learn the skills eventually. I don't let my students retake tests, either, but I do let them do extra credit. I agree with a2z that grades are generally pretty meaningless. Do or can you give points for classwork and participation? That helps bump up grades of kids who try hard but don't do so great on tests.
     
  21. a2z

    a2z Maven

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    Thinking more on this subject, it really comes down to the following questions. What is the purpose of school? What is the purpose of grades? Thinking about the first question, is the purpose of K-12 to help the student progress as far as we can within that timeframe or to measure and mark how well (and quickly) they learn in the environment we control.
     
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  22. Pashtun

    Pashtun Fanatic

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    I am not advocating testing in K, however, if a teacher is testing in K aren't they responsible for the test anxiety?

    Do teachers not realize or accept that WE teachers are the ones who control the majority of our classrrom environment, we determine the atmosphere for testing and expectations, these are not inherent feelings. They are developed, and we are the primary "developers".
     
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  23. bella84

    bella84 Aficionado

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    I'm not sure if you were directing this question at me or not, but, since you quoted me... I totally agree with you! That's exactly why I don't see the need to make a big deal out of tests in the primary grades. Sure, you're going to assess students, but that can be done in ways that don't create anxiety. Giving a K student a formal, written test and then allowing them to retake it because they didn't do well will likely lead to confused feelings of failure and disappointment. As the teachers, we should take the data for what it is and then move on, providing enrichment or intervention along the way. No need to have 5 year-olds worrying about whether they scored "satisfactory", "unsatisfactory", etc. IMO. Having conversations with them about their successes and areas to build upon is appropriate, but they're too young at that age to really grasp the concept of grades and will only understand that they made the teacher happy or disappointed.
     
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  24. teacherintexas

    teacherintexas Maven

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    I'm required to give retests so but on another test of equal or superior rigor but the district does not provide the test. I've heard through the grapevine that people are not doing this but are giving the same test again. I think it's a ridiculous requirement. Not only are we expected to write benchmarks but we have to find time to reteach and retest but had better not be off our pacing calendar. I can either reteach or be on schedule. Our admin needs to decide which one is more important because we can't do both.
     
  25. a2z

    a2z Maven

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    I disagree with this statement. It is all in the approach and what you say and do that will exacerbate anxiety or not. To us a "retake" of a test is an indication that someone has done bad. Many have already developed an negative attitude of the students who fail tests and the reasons they do so. But we must remember that this attitude is developed in an environment with the attitude that getting it right the first time is the "right" way. Any other is seen as a failure. Our language and attitude (even if trying to hide the attitude) is negative. We don't see a failing test grade like a "sink of dirty dishes" like one of our wonderful posters explained about behavior that is not where it eventually needs to be.

    I do think if we framed learning and assessments (whatever kind) as just an indicator to decide how to work together next for improvement, kids (aside from some underlying biological reason for anxiety or outside reason for anxiety) would not have an issue with test because there would not be anything negative associated with it.

    If we think about the subtle and not so subtle ways we talk about tests and grades in society and in schools, we don't see errors on assessments or even classwork as expected and just a way to see where holes must be plugged.

    I for one, even though I was a very good student with very good grades, struggled emotionally with testing of all sorts. Every judgement came with "disappointment" whether it was with my score or the general average of the class or a particular student or two. School was a blame game, not a supportive environment where, especially upper grades even in advanced class, attitudes of "you will never amount to anything" if you don't do well prevailed. The attitude about grades displayed to the students was not to see what was wrong so we can see how to get the kids where they needed to be.

    I really think we look at current behaviors and dismiss that things can ever be different based on what we see and what was created year after year for students.
     
  26. BioAngel

    BioAngel Science Teacher - Grades 3-6

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    Not for science, which is what I teach. I do, however, allow students to make corrections on a piece of looseleaf paper (and get the test signed by a parent). If the corrections are accurate, they earn back half the points they missed. I only allow for that if the student has scored a 79% or below.
     
  27. jadorelafrance

    jadorelafrance Cohort

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    Interesting, I do the exact same thing. I only do it for certain assignments and usually only if the class as a whole does poorly. I don't want to to have it ingrained in their head that they can just do test corrections if they do poorly. I still want to see them do their best the first time around.
     
  28. mjhoudek

    mjhoudek Rookie

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    My third grade class just did poorly on an open book comprehension & vocab test. Any advice? Retest or not? I'm new so I am going go speak with my principal as there is no other 3rd grade class. Private School FYI.
     
  29. bella84

    bella84 Aficionado

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    If it was the majority of the class, then it was probably either a poorly written test or you didn't effectively teach what was on the test... So, whether you retest or not is up to you, but, at minimum, I'd throw out the test scores. It's possible that you taught it well and that it was well-written and that your students just didn't put in effort when taking it, but, if it was really most of the class who did poorly, then that is the least likely scenario.
     
  30. teacherguy111

    teacherguy111 Cohort

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    I worked in a mastery school and we had to when I worked there. The whole point was to make sure students mastered the content. Students had to have a 90% in the class before they could move on to the next one.
     
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