Sunday, February 19, 2012

Taking Some Responsibility (gasp)!

Last week I posted about my fractions test scores.  This week I want to post about some changes I've made to how I handle retesting.  In the past, it has always been our (my school and grade level) policy that any student who doesn't pass (below 80%) the test the first time around must do a retest.  Our math program has 2 versions of the same test: version A is short answer, version B is multiple choice.  You'd think the students would do substantially better on version B, right?  Wrong!  The kids who end up needing to retest typically don't do any studying and do just as poorly (often times worse because they don't think they need to show their work) on version B.  This has been very irritating to me in the past, so I decided to make some changes.

Before our fractions test, I let the students know that retesting is no longer mandatory.  It is now a privilege that they must earn through hard work (aka studying).  I gave the students their test results on a Thursday, and gave them until the following Friday to put in 2 days of studying with me during their lunch recess.  After they put in at least 2 days of studying with me (many chose to do more than 2 days), they were allowed to retest.  It was encouraging to me that so many of the kids who didn't pass the first time around came in and studied during their lunch.  Every student who came in to study with me improved their scores.  Not everyone improved their scores enough to pass, but they all went up by at least 10 percent.

While I was pleased with the number of students who did come in a put forth the effort.  I was disappointed by the number who did terrible on the test, but chose to not come in.  Those students will be explaining to their parents why they chose to go out to recess, instead of coming in to study.

Overall, this is a strategy I plan to continue in my next unit.  In the meantime, I am certainly looking forward to having lunch to myself next week.  The unit we are currently studying is on volume and the students will test on it this coming Friday.  Next week I hope to have preliminary volume scores for you, as well as finalized fractions test scores.


  1. It is interesting how we both struggle and have concerns about the same things, even though we teach completely different grade levels! In the past, I have been a "pusher" for students to come in retake. I constantly remind them, ask them to do it, etc. I think this semester I am going to head more towards what you were mentioning. Retesting a privilege and it must be earned. Students have to show that they have put forth the time and effort to re-test. I like what I read yesterday on FlipperTeach's blog

    I also struggle with having lots of kids who SHOULD come in to retest but choose not to. I still haven't found the "magic button" to figure out what would motivate them to just come in and try. Let me know if you ever find it :)

    Always enjoy reading your blog...

  2. If the students don't do the retest, do they continue to the next unit? Also, do you have a time limit for retesting?

    One of my biggest frustrations is those students who are content with barely passing, and making, at most, minimal effort to improve.

  3. I did the same thing for my high schoolers, but called it "test redo". I said if they didn't pass with the (at the time) required 65%, they could come redo a test. I required the student to redo their incorrect answers and come in after school 1 day for tutoring. For those that chose to redo the test or quiz, it worked wonders. I would glance at their now-corrected answers, re-teach if needed, give him/her a sample problem to prove he/she actually could do it, then if time permitted, give the test or quiz.

    I had two parents complain about grades. Both new my "redo" policy and both saw their child didn't come in. Both sided with me.

    It works, and it gives us "backup"!