Wednesday, August 25, 2010

Retesting Advice?

I know Shawn Cornally says you shouldn't call it SBG unless you go all the way with it, but I'm kinda getting my feet wet with it this year. One of the things I'm trying to implement is allowing students to re-quiz or re-test by request. I'm allowing them to just redo the sections that they missed. (I'm doing some other pieces of SBG including dividing their grades among various skills and giving more feedback that I have previously. But it's the re-quizzing that I want advice on here.)

So, we're two full weeks in as of tomorrow and I think students are already trying to take advantage of this situation. I should maybe give some background that may or may not also contribute to this:

I use a SMART board to write for my notes during class and there are a couple groups of students who think they can understand the material by spacing out during class and going home to download the notes then study right before the assessments. I don't mind if students have a hard time writing notes at the same time as listening to the material, so they can just sit back and pay attention and download the notes later. It's also useful for when students miss class for whatever reason to catch up. So, I don't want to quit using that option, but students don't seem to be "learning their lesson" very quickly.

I had one of those students come to class this afternoon (on quiz day) and say, "Mr. Petersen, I'm not going to do well on this quiz. In fact, you may not want to even grade it." So, I told him not to waste his time either and not even take it. This is all with the understanding that he would come in later to redo it. I can easily see this kid pushing it back further and further and, with the hope of bringing it up later, just failing the quarter and beyond.

Many other students, as I'm passing out the quiz, before they've even looked at it ask, "So, can we redo this quiz later?" I am glad that I can take some pressure off of them by saying that they can, but I get the feeling that they're just pushing back the responsibility and not taking the whole thing seriously.

If I were a college teacher, I'd just take the attitude of "your loss," but we can't really do that at public schools.

For any who have re-quizzing as part of your assessment system, is this always an issue? Any hints on what I can do to feel better about it?


  1. It's always an issue with some kids, for me anyway. Most of them learn by the end of the first quarter (the hard way) that it's not feasible to skate and make it all up at the end. A select few are just going to be knuckleheads about it all year.

    A few things you can make clear that might help: they have to re-take on their own time, not in class. No coming in for help and immediately re-taking: if they need help, fine, but they have to come back another day to re-take. Also when it gets toward the end of the quarter, I make the after school period first come first served, and I don't rush, and if I don't get to you, too bad. They'll call totally no-fair and look all wounded-puppy but they learn that you have limits.

  2. Kate, as usual, is totally right 100%. Some kids just don't get it, they've been conditioned, and you'll have to just suffer through as they come to realize that points are meaningless, and that when they leave school what they've learned will be all that matters.

    To the kid that pushes it further and further back: what better time to learn that no one will be babysitting his/her understanding than in high school rather than having to figure it out through the haze of cheap beer during college?

    As for "your loss" not being an option, I sort of have to disagree. You are absolutely providing them with the best college prep, and the best philosophical environment (Points = Learning and nothing else) If a parent or principal asks what's up with all the D's, use words like "unproficient" and "measurable achievement" to buy you time as the students come around. I would say there is no "your loss" here, because the tacit lesson of responsibility is more important than the chain rule and quadratic formula combined.

    My logistical rule is that students can reassess one item per student per day. They can never assess the items that were assessed in class by a teacher-initiated assessment on the same day. If a student hasn't studied for a quiz, and they choose not to take it, I usually have them try and tell them that I won't put a score on it, but I'll give feedback, which they usually like.

    I hope any of this helps. Just remember, the implementation doesn't matter, it's the philosophical shift in your pedagogy and assessment that does.

  3. I agree with Kate that for some students this can be a problem, but the vast majority come around quickly as they make sense of the system. If a student tells me they are not ready for a quiz, I do the same as Shawn and have them take it anyway and make sure to give good feedback.

    I've found that the students that take a long time to come around can be pulled in by getting them to redo just one skill and having them watch as I put the grade in. I weight the quizzes pretty heavily, so there is a noticeable change in the grade when they go from a 0% to 100% on a skill (moreso at the start of the year, though). The student may not say much at the time, but they almost always come back later to work on other skills once the system clicks with them. There really are kids at the end of the semester who will come in that didn't understand/listen to the multitude of explanations on how the grading works and must be pulled in to see if firsthand. I've even gotten other students to haul in their friends :)

    It takes time, so keep the faith!
    Cheers, Ashli

  4. Ok, so maybe I just have to give it more time. I also have the inherent "CYA" factor here in case someone tells me they don't like how many low grades are showing up, because I have done my part in giving every opportunity to raise the grade.

    It's just worrisome right now when students ask if they can retake it right away and others ask how long they have until it has to be made up. I tell them they need to do it as soon as possible because it'll just keep piling up, but I can only hope they believe me.

  5. I'm with everyone else here. It just takes a while for the system to kick in. A lot of my kids never really get it until the first grading period is closing. There will be all these system tweaks you'll do to ensure that 1. they're not just cramming/memorizing and 2. it's manageable to you.

    It's worth thinking about what would those kids be doing otherwise? I've always got a couple of kids that do the cram thing at the end. But these are the same kids who would be coming begging me for "extra credit" at the end of the year. At least this way they need to actually learn something instead of just copying some random worksheets or cleaning whiteboards or whatever else extra credit means.

  6. I'm glad you posted this, because that is one of my big fears. Something I know some of my kids are going to do with SBG. And I'm seriously glad that others who do it have found their kids turn around from that attitude.

    The big thing I'm scared of are kids going home one night, saying "oh, I have a big AP European History test, and a math assessment. I'll just skip studying for the math assessment, because I can always make it up." Similarly with homework.

    That's actually exactly the pushback I got from a teacher when I told her about my new system.

    But the answer I keep coming up with in my head is: if they take the assessment and do well on it, awesome. If they don't do well, and they can show me they can soon thereafter, great. And they'll quickly learn that if they don't do homework, they won't have a chance in hades to do well on the assessments.


  7. I'm avoiding the "oh I'll do it later" problem by assigning a WEEK of after-school detention, if you can't get a 3 (out of 4) on a quiz the third time.

    That means we have done the following:

    ~ Took notes
    ~ Practiced in class
    ~ Did bellwork for a week
    ~ Did practice quiz the day before
    ~ Took quiz first time
    ~ Corrected quiz
    ~ Practiced more in bellwork
    ~ Did second practice quiz
    ~ Took quiz second time
    ~ Corrected quiz second time
    ~ Practiced more in bellwork
    ~ Took quiz third time

    And after that if you STILL have only 1 or 2? You lose a week of your free time to study with me.

    I have absolutely no sympathy for 95% of those kids, they need the consequence.

    The other 5%? They really need help. They were trying. So....they get help from me!

    However, right now the amount of tutoring-detentions is overwhelming. I'm hoping the carrot/stick will work and it will lessen as time goes on, or I'll die with the extra work.

    We'll see....