Blog, Special Education

Should we allow students to retake tests and quizzes?

There is a lot of debate in my school on whether or not to allow students to retake tests and quizzes. Or to allow students to complete test corrections to raise their grade. I would assume that this is probably a debated upon topic in many schools! Does allowing a student to retake a quiz or test really helping them learn? Personally, I think it depends on the subject and the nature of the test.

The Big Question

Is the student going to learn from doing a retake or corrections?

If the student is simply going to memorize some answers because they chose not to study for the original exam, then allowing them to fix their mistakes is not useful to them. If allowing them to fix their work is going to encourage them to seek out assistance and learn what they did wrong so they can do it right in the future. Then I think the benefit of the retake is worth it.

Math

In math is where I most see retakes or test corrections to be appropriate. Math is such a cumulative subject that it is important that students understand what is going on before you build upon it. Allowing a student to retake a test, or do corrections is encouraging them to realize what their mistakes were.

Just asking students to review their tests and learn from their mistakes is not enough. Without giving them some reward for doing this, a homework grade or a better test grade, only your best students are going to actually go back and review their wrong answers. Giving students the opportunity to bring their failing test grade up to a D-, or give them a homework grade for completing the corrections, or even if you want to let them retake the test all over for a new grade, you are giving them a reason to do it.

I know a lot of teachers argue with the possibility of giving them a second chance when they weren’t ready the first time, but isn’t it better that they are coming out of the school year with a better understanding of the topic and curriculum? I think that the benefits of the bigger picture are really worth it.

ELA

In English, I feel a little different. In ELA I really feel like they are usually not appropriate. If you are asking basic comprehension questions about a book they read, and you gave them appropriate instruction, there is really no long-term benefit to allowing them to raise their grade. You know your students, if you have a student who you strongly feel like they did everything they were supposed to and some unexpected factor made them do poorly, then use your best teacher judgment and maybe give them some kind of alternate assignment.

We are not out to get the students.  But, we also need to make sure that we are teaching them to be reliable and responsible adults.

Science, Social Studies and everything else

My biggest message here is, trust your judgment. Really think it through and make sure you are not making an emotional decision. We’ve all done it, it’s human! The bottom line is, will the student be a better student from relearning the material and retaking the exam or completing corrections.

If it a basic multiple choice test, a retake may not be appropriate.  There is no way to know if they are actually learning new information.  Maybe some sort of alternate assignment on the same information.  Find a way to allow the students to present the information in a different way.  This is a great time to incorporate different interests and learning styles into your assessment.

If it is something super important and they just really bombed it, it is definitely time for some reteaching and reassessing.

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1 thought on “Should we allow students to retake tests and quizzes?

  1. Great topic! I do give my students the option to retake math tests for a new grade if they score below 70% (I teach second grade). They have to correct their missed answers with a parent/adult and have the test signed. I’ve personally found it to be very effective because it’s extra reteaching at home that they might not have received otherwise. More often than not, there’s improvement when they re-take the test.

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