Posted on February 28, 2014
The Retake Debate
Recently, I’ve been in heated discussions around whether or not we should allow students to retake assessments. I teach both math and science currently, and the departments are in very different places with regards to their stance on retakes.
In my math courses, students are free to retake any quiz they please. The thinking behind this is that if they are willing to put in the effort to fill the gaps in their understanding, they should be given the opportunity to show me that they have. In order to be able to retake a quiz though, they must go through a quiz retake form. It serves as a reflective process to help students identify what areas they need to work on and encourages them to look for recurring patterns in their assessments. I would approach the retake process for a student whose mistakes are all computational much different than one who identifies that they didn’t understand the topic at all. This idea of a retake form was inspired by a presentation at the NCTM Regional Conference in 2011 .
The retake form that I use can be downloaded here: https://copy.com/vcUPTxzyuKjT .
Some have suggested only those that score below a certain grade can qualify for a retake. I’m torn on this because I think all students should get the opportunity, but some students don’t need to do it. Some students retake to show me they understand, while some only retake so they can bring their grade from an A- to A.
Others are completely against retakes, finding it either unfair to those who were prepared or to much work for the teacher. Some allow students to correct their mistakes as a homework grade, but I think this method fails to allow our students to use the reflective process to a level where they can show us that they have now learned.
I guess a lot of this comes back to what you believe a grade should represent. Unfortunately, grades are driving our practice here. I want learning to drive this, but I’m sure that won’t entirely drive it until we can abolish grading completely.