Tests: must they be returned to students?

Discussion in 'Secondary Education' started by Forester7, Jan 16, 2016.

  1. Forester7

    Forester7 New Member

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    Jan 16, 2016

    Hi. Do tests need to be returned to students? What I have done to this point is return them and go over them in class, then I collect them and keep them on file. I know if I return them, students will pass them on to next year's students and I will have to write new tests (which I find is difficult for sciences which I teach). I let students see their tests anytime during extra-help, but I do not allow them out of my sight. Lately I am getting increased pressure from students (and even a parent) who say the tests belong to them and I am obligated to release them! Students argue they need them for exam study. I argue that my exams are not based on past tests, but are based on their notes and everything covered in class.

    What do I do? I have only been teaching for a few years... help!
     
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  3. GemStone

    GemStone Habitué

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    Jan 16, 2016

    I don't teach secondary, but I have high school students of my own, and they never get to bring tests home and we understand why. To counter your students' arguments, they don't get back standardized tests. Personally, I would state my policy and reason once to the students and parent, and refuse to argue further over the issue.
     
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  4. jadorelafrance

    jadorelafrance Cohort

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    It's policy in my school to not let students keep tests or quizzes. Sometimes I'll let kids keep their projects because I don't want to throw them out at the end of the year, but I keep their rubrics and grades in file. If parents want to look at their kid's test, they can make an appointment with me. I've also let a couple of kids come in on their own time after school to look through a previous quiz or test with me.
     
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  5. Forester7

    Forester7 New Member

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    Thanks for the early responses. So far it is making me a little more comfortable with my policy. I totally understand student's desires to have their tests ( I would probably be the same way if I was a student) and I would be ok with it if I knew they would not be passed on, but especially in this day and age, I know students will try anything to gain an edge.
     
  6. HistoryVA

    HistoryVA Devotee

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    Jan 16, 2016

    Students get quizzes back, but never tests. They are just given their scores.
     
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  7. jadorelafrance

    jadorelafrance Cohort

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    I would double check the policy at your school. If it's lenient or it depends on the teacher, do what you're comfortable with and make sure your admin will back you up. We generally reuse quizzes and tests year to year because we stick to the assessment program, so giving kids their tests to keep is essentially letting their younger friends/siblings cheat. I also like the peace of mind of having their assessments in case a parent wants to come to discuss their kid's progress and I can just grab it from my files (kids may lose theirs if they keep them) and also in case the online grading system fails and I lose grades.
     
  8. MLB711

    MLB711 Comrade

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    Jan 16, 2016

    I teach middle school and we have test folders. All of the tests get signed from their test folders. Most teachers have a file for signed tests in their classroom (I don't have the room so my students' tests stay in their folders). Tests get returned so students can study for midterm exams, and then I keep all of those tests until the end of the year when I recycle them. I collect all their second semester tests at the end of the year, then throw them out at the beginning of the next year.
     
  9. Forester7

    Forester7 New Member

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    Trouble is... if I let my high school students have the tests even for a short while, they will 1) copy them or take pictures, and 2) NOT return them!!
     
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  10. dgpiaffeteach

    dgpiaffeteach Aficionado

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    Jan 16, 2016

    I return all of mine. I don't reuse too many tests and so many of mine are essay ones where they know the prompt ahead of time anyways. I also don't want to store them. I don't have enough storage space as it is lol. I find most of my kids throw them out later (I don't let them throw them out in my room) or promptly lose them, but I still like to for the few students who like having them.
     
  11. MLB711

    MLB711 Comrade

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    Jan 16, 2016

    I understand your reluctance to return tests because they won't be returned to you, even with parent signatures. I find it difficult to believe that most students will go out of their way to make copies or send pictures of tests, especially if their friends or siblings are much younger. But I don't teach at your school.

    If you don't want to give the tests out, then don't. Make sure admin will back you up when they get calls from parents.
     
  12. jadorelafrance

    jadorelafrance Cohort

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    Most kids probably won't make copies of tests or give them to friends/younger siblings, but once you give them out, you open up that possibility (I imagine this was an issue in the past as now it's school policy). I don't make new tests every year, it's a waste of time as I teach the same content every year. I'll modify tests sometimes if I don't get to something or I supplement with something else, so I don't want to chance it. Thankfully in my school, all teachers do that so its a non-issue. Also, there ALWAYS one or two students who don't take a test due to illness, vacation, etc. for weeks (or months in some extenuating cases) after the initial test date, so I don't want copies of tests floating around.

    st kids probab
     
  13. vickilyn

    vickilyn Magnifico

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    Can you be certain that pictures aren't already being taken, especially if they really do want them to study from? In this day and age where everyone seems to have a smart phone, I believe telling them that you don't want them passed on may trigger the behavior you don't want to happen. Better idea is to build a question bank for every unit, with more than enough questions to pick and choose. After building and sometimes revising the question bank, there should be enough variety to allow students to possibly keep the tests. I have allowed tests to be kept, since we have cumulative mid-terms and finals, created from multiple teachers. Over time, the question bank has grown substantially, and for unit tests, we all tend to vary the test questions/answers to make them study aids without impugning the validity of the grade wide exams. Just a thought.
     
  14. readingrules12

    readingrules12 Aficionado

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    Jan 18, 2016

    No, they don't need to be returned in any school that I know about. We go over the test after it is corrected and then they hand the tests back in. I often use some of the questions from the tests the next year. It takes too much time to create all new tests each year.
     
  15. Peregrin5

    Peregrin5 Maven

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    Jan 19, 2016

    Since I've done electronic tests, I've solved many of my problems. Students can see their tests online and see what the questions were and exactly what they got wrong, even immediately after the test. When I give test correction opportunities, I don't have to print out their results anymore. I just tell them to login and find them. My own login shows me the information for all students.

    Also questions are randomized so it's hard to cheat. I can even use the same questions as last year without any worry.
     
  16. jadorelafrance

    jadorelafrance Cohort

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    What program do you use to create online tests?
     
  17. Peregrin5

    Peregrin5 Maven

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    Our district purchased a system called OARS which we can use to generate tests for either online or paper purposes (it comes with software to allow us to scan papers too).

    However Socrative is a free system that does essentially the same thing without the databank of pre-made questions (though teachers can share quizzes).
     
  18. MsMar

    MsMar Fanatic

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    Jan 20, 2016

    I don't return tests. They're made by the district and all 6th grade social studies teachers use the same tests. I let parents know this policy at open house and told them that if they ever want to see their child's test they're welcome to make an appointment to come to the school and sit in a conference room and look over it. I've yet to have anyone take me up on the offer.
     
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  19. readingrules12

    readingrules12 Aficionado

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    Socrative is a great program! It is my favorite app for tests and quizzes. It is the only one that I have found that is excellent and free. I agree with you on this.
     
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  20. 2ndTimeAround

    2ndTimeAround Phenom

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    I had one set of parents get very upset that I would not send home a test. Accused me of falsifying the grade even. I explained our policy and the reason behind it. They came in and immediately the mother pulled out her iPad. I asked her to put it away and that I had plenty of paper she could use if she wanted to copy down key concepts. She said she was just going to take a photo. I told her I knew that, and that's why I wanted her to put it away. @@ She and her husband got into an argument then.

    Had another kid take a photo with his phone because his dad told him to. After I told Dad why I couldn't send it home. Kid's phone was confiscated and not returned until Dad came to pick it. I personally deleted the photos before it went back to the kid. Now, with so many people automatically uploading photos to the cloud, the child probably would have received a zero for the test and lost all chances of honor societies.
     
  21. Caesar753

    Caesar753 Multitudinous

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    Another issue to consider is retakes. Do you offer them? If so, do you write a new test or quiz for the retake?

    My previous school required teachers to offer unlimited retakes. I couldn't write an infinite number of tests or quizzes, so some retakes were identical to the original test or contained identical sections. Students who have access to those original tests (or pictures of them) may have an unfair advantage on the retake, depending on the skill being assessed. Sometimes the skill includes a preparation aspect, so advanced knowledge of the test questions is not a problem. Sometimes, however, the skill may focus more on an off-the-cuff aspect, such as translating a passage at sight. In those situations, advanced knowledge completely defeats the purpose of the test and will give an inaccurate result.
     
  22. Forester7

    Forester7 New Member

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    Jan 23, 2016

    To clarify... the biggest issue I have is with my university prep biology courses. I am the only one teaching them. I feel that I have developed great quality questions that would be hard and sometimes these is only one good way to test concepts. There are multiple choice questions, which I find are a pain to develop, so I want to be able to use the same ones each year. To try to recreate these tests would be extremely time consuming and difficult.

    However, most teachers at my school return tests (most just don't care), so students take issue with me. Just since first posting this, I have caught 2 students trying to sneak pictures (even though phones are not allowed in my class) and it became a huge issue in both cases, with classmate rallying around them. It is becoming extremely stressful. It is crazy that something like this should be an issue! Students today are so empowered, they think that they should be able to do anything they want to... probably because they do at home!?
     
  23. 2ndTimeAround

    2ndTimeAround Phenom

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    I totally understand. For my advanced courses it is not unusual for me to spend 15-20 minutes creating diagrams/tables/graphs for a single test question. Making a rigorous test takes hours and I expect to be able to use it over and over. It isn't a simple case of plugging in a different variable or number in a test question.
     
  24. PoliticalFutbol

    PoliticalFutbol Rookie

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    For years I wrote new tests every year. Every year my classes were different so I had to take a different approach. I wrote explanations of lessons in test form - leading questions. The students liked it but it seemed to make some people upset for some reason. My tests consisted of the questions which the homework leading questions led to. I wrote computer programs that generated new test questions based on the concepts. At the press of a button I could print out 30 same - different tests. After returning tests, I encouraged the students to share solution methods in groups as well as take the test home to study to be prepared when the final came along. The solution methods were generally the same, but the answers were different. I think one school after another hated me for this - it seemed, but they never actually verbalized the hate - maybe it was my imagination. So yeah, I encouraged students to take tests home - take all they can get to practice with and learn from.

    Now after finally a school over-loaded me with other stuff, I could no longer teach that way. They tried to get me to counsel students about personal problems, be a father figure, all kinds of weird things that I have never felt comfortable with since I have always kind of been the opposite of a social genius. When I had to stop re-writing things, yes, I did worry about students taking tests home. I discussed this with another teacher. She was down from the college level, teaching English in a room next to mine. She said she lets her students take tests home and didn't see a problem. She continued by saying if students cheat, that is none of her business - there is really nothing she can prove or do about it. But I decided from that conversation that taking tests home was still ok - we teach and it is the responsibility of the students to learn and we don't have to do anything unusual - like withholding tests.
     
    Last edited: Jan 28, 2016
  25. Puppet Debris

    Puppet Debris Rookie

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    I always thought that if a student takes a test, they should expect it to be graded fairly and they have the right to keep it.
    But I did start copying some of the multiple-choice tests that I graded.
    While this is a bit beside the point, I will continue because it is kind of interesting.
    Yes, a large portion of the test was multiple-choice. The directions were ".... place the letter preceding the best choice in the appropriate space to the left of the question." But students were cheating. They changed answers and told me I made a mistake in the grading. These papers went home and parents got involved. Well, I got angry, I admit, - I could not prove things. I was so angry - and then I became devious and my anger back-fired on me. Well, they were the ones cheating, but I was getting the grief. It really bothered me and it probably showed and my repertoire with the students went down-hill really fast. So the next time I copied the tests, but didn't tell the students. I caught them. In one class, seven students were caught and one student made 7 changes! I let the students bring in parents - took it all the way to the top, let the parents see how I was losing the battle in my honest, simple defense. Then I brought out the copies. But still it didn't work out well for me. It caused embarrassment for the private school. The school lost some students and parent support over that issue.
    After that students didn't dare cheat - but my repertoire still suffered. I showed a few more tricks - brought a few more would be cheaters out in the open.
    Finally, I have to say... I just want to find a good school environment where students want to learn math and science and I can just go teach without all the political stuff and use all that college education I struggled to learn. I have had so few good years of teaching.
     

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