Student assesment retakes have been a controversial topic among educators and parents alike. Some argue that giving students the opportunity to retake a test is necessary to ensure that they have mastered the material. This seems to be more prevalent around the circles that embrace standards-based practices. Others believe that it creates an atmosphere where students are not held accountable for their initial performance. I have seen first-hand how the idea of a retake plays a role in how students approach a test knowing they have a second attempt if the first goes awry.
There are several questions that must be addressed when considering implemeting as assessment retake policy. Where should students retake the test? Some schools may have designated retake days or a flex time, while others may allow students to retake the test during a designated study hall or after school. If it is after/before school, tranportation considerations need to be taken in to account. This can be an issue with invidividual teachers if no time exists for the retake. I know of some schools that build this “flex” time in to their master schedules while other schools leave it up to the teacher to decide if it happens.
Another important factor to consider is how much practice students should have before taking the retake. It is important to ensure that students have a thorough understanding of the material before retaking the test. This may involve additional practice materials or targeted review sessions with a teacher or someone else.
Additionally, it is important to determine how long the period should be between the initial assessment and the retake. Some schools may require a certain amount of time to pass before allowing students to retake the test, while others may allow students to retake the test immediately after receiving their initial grade. My thinking is that a certain amount of time is needed for error analysis and practice to occur before another attempt. Missing classtime for the retake can cause issues down the road.
Leaders should consider whether the retake policy should be implemented school-wide or on a classroom-by-classroom basis. Some schools may choose to have a consistent retake policy across all subjects and grades. Other districts or schools may leave it up to individual teachers to decide whether to allow retakes.
I believe the goal of any retake policy should be to promote student learning and achievement. I wrote about this same topic a few years back and am still refining my thiking on how to make retakes more effective.