Should we allow students to retest?

I once had the opportunity to hear Rick DuFour speak on this topic and the analogy he gave really hit home with me. He simply asked what happened when someone failed their driving test. Of course the audience responded they got to retake it…several times if necessary. He then asked, “Which one counted? Did you get an average of your scores?” Of course the response was the last test mattered;that was the score your received. I began to rethink my position on testing and revised my practice so that my focus was on mastery. I think we need to remember that when students fail it is not always just their fault. What role did I have in their not understanding? What challenges do they face at home…especially in the strained economic conditions many families face today Students who do not demonstrate mastery on my assessments (both tests and projects) are allowed to retake the test or revise their project after completing some time of support session. This could be a lunch review or study time verified by a n adult in their life.It will usually include a metcognitive reflection on why they think they did poorly. I am pleased to note that when my students take the district assessment as well as the state assessment they always score on average 10% and someitmes more above the average for my site. Therefore I think that retesting is an effective learning tool that is reflected in the “real” world. After all how many of us would have our jobs if we were never allowed the luxury of learning from our failures. As posted in an Edutopia discussion. If you have not yet checked out this site, you need to do so. Look for my colleague Heather otherwise  known as tweenteacher🙂


2 Responses to “Should we allow students to retest?”

  1. Heather Wolpert-Gawron Says:

    And then there’s also the reconceptualization (is that a word?) for our current grading practices all together. How can a kid rebound from a test in the beginning of the quarter that equals the same weight as one at the end of the quarter? Do not the tests at the end really assess the students’ true learning? That’s the hope anyway.

    Shouldn’t a student who started out poor and end strong, end on a strong note and not the average of the two? We’re dinging kids on not knowing as much earlier in the quarter.

    Is this fair? More importantly, is this helping our students?

    Thank for the shout out and the cool post.

    -Heather Wolpert-Gawron
    aka Tweenteacher


    • strategicteaching Says:

      “Do not the tests at the end really assess the students’ true learning?” Only if they are cumulative…many tests are focused on assessment of a fixed range of learning…I am moving more and more towards seeing authentic assessments as a more valid representation of deep learning. Traditional pen and paper tests are more and more a formative tool for me as I determine what needs to be retaught . I see them as an evaluative tool for my practice as well as for the current knowledge of my students. I am in flux in this area. Have you read Reeve’s article The Case Against Zero?”


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