What to do when your class bombs a quiz

Discussion in 'Secondary Education' started by ms.irene, Dec 8, 2014.

  1. ms.irene

    ms.irene Connoisseur

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    Dec 8, 2014

    Hello, I have two sections of high school French 1. Both classes just took a quiz on Friday and bombed it (class averages are 55% and 65% respectively) and the unit test is scheduled for tomorrow. I am thinking about putting the test off for Thursday and doing some major review tomorrow instead. What do you think? Do you ever move a test when the class isn't ready? Or should I stick to the plan, review in the first half of the period and give the test tomorrow (we have 100-minute blocks)?

    Thanks for any advice you might have! I think end-of-semester burnout is setting in for them (and for me too!).
     
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  3. swansong1

    swansong1 Virtuoso

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    Dec 8, 2014

    I was going to say to hold off one day before you give the test, but since your blocks are 100 minutes, you should have time for review and test all in the same day.

    Maybe a low test score will wake them up?
     
  4. miss-m

    miss-m Groupie

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    Dec 8, 2014

    I would dedicate the next class to review -- let them know their scores and do some hardcore practice before the unit test. There's obviously something most of them aren't getting, and spending that extra time can boost their confidence.
    My CT and I had to do that last year -- I was teaching fractions and we did a pre- and post- test -- they did worse on the post test after 2 weeks, so I had to go back and completely reteach just about everything. Embarrassing to me as a teacher (I taught for two weeks and they somehow knew LESS than they did at the beginning), but it was majorly helpful for my class and they all did much better the 2nd time through.
     
  5. ms.irene

    ms.irene Connoisseur

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    I have been giving it some thought and I decided I don't want to send the message that not studying = getting an extension on a test. I'm going to split the block into two "periods" with the first half for review and the second half for the test. Behavior and focus have been slipping in the first class with the 55% average, so I am hoping this will be a wake-up call for them since I feel I did plenty of practice and review overall, and I did have at least some students who were successful on the quiz, which makes me think the ones who failed weren't paying attention or didn't study, and I don't want to "reward" them with a complete extension.
     
  6. mathmagic

    mathmagic Enthusiast

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    Dec 8, 2014

    That brings up a good point - the reaction to the low scores would definitely depend (somewhat, not completely) on whether there was a concept that the teacher felt as though they didn't quite teach well enough, or that students simply need a reteaching, or if it was more that the students didn't put enough effort into their practicing or taking advantage of the initial teaching/reteaching times.
     
  7. czacza

    czacza Multitudinous

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    Considers scrapping the quiz grade. Those scores should be viewed as formative and inform your instruction. You need to do some major reteaching
     
  8. HistoryVA

    HistoryVA Devotee

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    I'd rather push the test back than review the same day. Reviewing the material and testing within the same class period is more of a reward than waiting a couple of days. They only have to remember the material for 30 minutes, rather than study it before next class.
     
  9. GTB4GT

    GTB4GT Cohort

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    Dec 9, 2014

    One thing that I like to do is show them data. I had a math class that just bombed a quiz (below 50%, worst class average I had ever seen) a few weeks ago. Then I showed the class average for same quiz the previous 2 years (about 35 points higher). Then I discussed with them behaviors and practices that I have observed that are different from previous classes and may have contributed to the poor scores. I think this year's class got into a group think mindset that the material was "too hard" and thus put forth no effort. However, when presented data that said that the material was, in fact, in line with high school standards and had been mastered by their peers the previous 2 years, they have reacted in a very positive manner. I am getting more participation in class, students are asking many more questions, etc.(which were some of the different behaviors that I discussed).

    I think these kids get into a "group think" mindset very easily (this is "too hard"). Using data in the manner suggested above (if it is available) can be a great tool to help counter that.
     
  10. a2z

    a2z Virtuoso

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    Dec 9, 2014

    Reviewing the day of gives a false impression of what the students know so when mid-terms or finals come along or the information is needed for further use, they don't have it. The students then look like they don't care or aren't trying because you took the time to even re-teach it, but it was done in a way to induce higher test scores rather than true learning.

    Unfortunately, review right before tests and quizzes is a common way to boost student scores and give false impressions about what they can recall independently.
     
  11. Peregrin5

    Peregrin5 Maven

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    Dec 9, 2014

    In order to head this off in the future, I would do a lot of formative assessments prior to the quiz as they are being introduced to the material. This will help you know close to the time that you introduce the material whether they understand it or not. Formative assessments can simply be checking off their homework, asking them to do think-pair-shares, etc.

    I do mini-quizzes that are essentially worth nothing, they peer grade them, and it gives them immediate feedback and gives me feed back. I don't collect them. I just walk around as they're taking it to see how well they do, and then based on that information I might make my next day's kick-off a question based on the quiz, or do practice or a review sheet.

    I know people like to manipulate the data, and get a very clear view on how their students are doing, but it takes too much time to stop all the time and give and grade formal quizzes. I get a clear enough view through informal checks.
     
  12. LisaLisa

    LisaLisa Companion

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    Dec 10, 2014

    I would look at the test design. Don't change your test format. Do a lesson on test taking strategies. It may be that they need more review but also the ability to know how to take a test. That's what I used to do. Review the material and also good practices.
     
  13. Sam Aye M

    Sam Aye M Mr. Know-It-All

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    When I used to be a teacher, I always felt that when a class bombed a test/quiz, that was MY failure, not theirs. Clearly, I did not teach it correctly, or I did not teach them how to study for this test correctly. Eventually, I started giving 5 question quizzes to start the class period nearly every day. If you missed it, you missed it, there were no make up quizzes. It was only 5 questions, and we corrected it in class. I used the quizzes to monitor what they were learning, and what they were not learning. When I had a question that most of the class missed, I knew I had to start that class period reinforcing that information, as they seemed to have missed it somehow. It really worked well for me, and for the kids. The quizzes themselves were only worth 2 points, which was enough to make them want to try, but not so much that missing a quiz here or there would ruin their classroom grades.
     
  14. CindyBlue

    CindyBlue Cohort

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    Dec 12, 2014

    "When I used to be a teacher, I always felt that when a class bombed a test/quiz, that was MY failure, not theirs. Clearly, I did not teach it correctly, or I did not teach them how to study for this test correctly."
    This is true in some cases, but not all. I just hate it when teachers are made to feel guilty when kids fail a test, as if it was their fault, when it might just as well have been the kids fault.
    For example, last year when a whole class failed a test (well most of them, anyway) I talked to kids individually to see why, thinking it was my fault, of course. But EVERY kid I talked to (and that was almost every one who failed the test) told me that he/she was a) studying for a test in another class, b) didn't do the HW, c) had a big paper/project due that day in another class so didn't get the HW done for that reason, had a big game that night, had a music performance, etc., etc., etc. I checked the school schedule, and it was all true. It was a "perfect storm" for those kids on that day. I also looked up past test scores for that test for years back, and all were much higher than this year's, so I knew that my lessons were well planned and well executed.
    They were honest and a very good class, so I figured that they were simply swamped, so I gave extra review time and gave the test again, assuring them that it was a one time thing and that they really needed to learn to budget their time more effectively.
    Teachers need to realize that not everything is under our full control, and that sometimes we do everything right and circumstances mean that not everyone does well. Somehow we have to get over the idea that we are responsible for everything. We can simply make sure that we are doing the best we can do, and then let the kids do the best they can do. And if it's not always perfect, then we try to learn from it and move on.
     
  15. Sam Aye M

    Sam Aye M Mr. Know-It-All

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    Dec 12, 2014

    And sometimes it IS under our control. The trick is knowing the difference. We do what we can.
     
  16. MrsC

    MrsC Multitudinous

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    Dec 12, 2014

    I had a math test scheduled for this coming Monday. This past week, I haven't had full attendance any day--there's a horrid "crud" making it's way through the school and most of the kids who have been off have been away for at least 2 days. I'm pushing the test back a couple of days; they simply aren't ready yet.
     
  17. ms.irene

    ms.irene Connoisseur

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    Dec 12, 2014

    Thank you so much for all of the thoughtful replies! I spoke to my dept. head who also teaches the same class, and she strongly recommended doing a review and then going ahead with the test. She and I are supposed to keep to the same schedule, and with only two classes left in the semester, one of which needed to be dedicated to final review, I didn't have much wiggle room. I have started grading the tests and they are looking better than the quizzes.

    I do think there are multiple factors going on here: test design (I use the quizzes my dept. head gives me which come from our curriculum and are sometimes very difficult), pacing, students being busy and overwhelmed this time of year -- the list goes on. I also think that unfortunately, being an elective, this class gets pushed down the priority list when students are overwhelmed.

    One thing in particular that I need to consider for next semester, though, is that I focus a lot on communication (speaking and dialogue) in class, and then the assessments are almost all reading and writing. I think I need to beef up my writing practice since that is what students are mostly being assessed on in the program I am supposed to be following.

    I also need to be doing more frequent, informal but structured checks for understanding, such as a quick "pop quiz" to make sure students are understanding and recalling basic language skills.

    Thank you again for all the helpful suggestions!
     

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