A Shrewdness of Apes

An Okie teacher banished to the Midwest. "Education is not the filling a bucket but the lighting of a fire."-- William Butler Yeats

Sunday, January 11, 2009

Open thread: Sounds "questionable" to me...

A friend of mine has a daughter who is looking for a teaching job next year, partly due to this policy: Teachers in her high school have been instructed to allow students to retake tests repeatedly until they pass them, no matter how many times it takes. The district doesn't want any students failing.

I doubt that ANY district WANTS to see students failing. But where is there ever accountability in this kind of set-up?

What do you think?

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11 Comments:

At 1/11/09, 7:26 PM, Blogger christopher said...

I can understand the reason for a retest policy but not one for repeated retakes. Student do learn at different rates so the ability to retest on material to check for knowledge is ok but there must be some time constants to show progress is being made. Just my thoughts. By the way i enjoy your blog very much.

 
At 1/11/09, 7:51 PM, Blogger Karen said...

I think it's ridiculous! When these kids are in the workforce do you think their boss will let them have as much time as they need to get that report just right? Our job as educators is to prepare students to be productive citizens of our society. That policy is only teaching that you don't have to be accountable for your own actions.

 
At 1/11/09, 8:10 PM, Blogger Mrs. H said...

Our school has a retest policy also, but the highest grade they can earn on the retest is a 70.

We are also required to pass everyone who "tries" and the lowest grade we can assign is a 60. (70 is considered passing in Texas)

I personally, don't have a problem with students being allowed to retake a test one time. But multiple times??? That is unrealistic and creates a sense of entitlement for the student and an unfair work burden for the teacher.

 
At 1/11/09, 8:25 PM, Blogger -C said...

This is a practice that has been adopted within one of the school districts that feeds into the college I teach at. Boy, were those students in for a rude awakening when they started college! It had become common practice that the students would take their tests the first time just to see what it was like and what they needed to "memorize" in order to pass it. When they began taking college courses (some offered at their high school) and were told that retaking tests until they "earned" a passing or appropriate grade wouldn't be allowed, parents became involved because they wanted the college to allow retesting, as well.

While I understand the importance of helping students develop confidence in their subject matter, I question the practice of allowing students to continue to retake tests and exams until they achieve the score they want. Are they really learning the material? Or are they simply memorizing the answers? However, who's to say they aren't just memorizing information and forgetting it immediately when they're only taking the test once? Which, I guess, causes me to enter into this lengthy dialogue in my head about how we really measure learning. Probably all things I shouldn't be stressing about the night before the beginning of the semester when I still need to finalize my syllabi.

 
At 1/11/09, 10:28 PM, Anonymous Kari said...

I think I'd just start making everything essays instead of tests. I can't imagine that it'd take less time than 80 billion retakes... Ugh.

 
At 1/12/09, 5:21 PM, Blogger Lking4truth said...

yea, seems a bit ridiculous to me, I agree with "-C" in that it really takes away all structure and accountability from the current system. If the current is too far to the right, then this "unlimited retake" is too far to the left. There are much better ways than unlimited "re-dos"......but it sounds like it would be a fun thing to say if life really worked that way. Just imagine if you were to make any mistake and you just had to shout out "RE-DO" and then you would get another chance. Good or bad, reality isn't set that way, so why teach our kids to take tests that way?

 
At 1/12/09, 6:52 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Check out the book titled "The Supreme Court and Whistleblowers: Teachers and Other Public Employees" available on Amazon.com and at Barnes and Nobles.

 
At 1/12/09, 7:29 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

If you consider the purpose of a grade to evaluate the amount of mastery that has been demonstrated, then this policy is ridiculous. Why would anyone study for the test the first time, and instead just use it as a study guide, as was pointed out?

Would you want an engineer designing your car who had been given a 60 just for trying? Your surgeon? A captain in the Army? Or, even, a teacher? What then would an 80 signify? Did no one pay attention to how communism collapsed?

This is ridiculous.

 
At 1/12/09, 10:31 PM, Blogger mathmom said...

At first I thought, why not? If the point is to ensure that the students learn the material, why not let them keep trying until they can prove they learned it? But of course passing a test is not the same as proving that one has learned the material, especially if it's a test the student has already had access to!

An interesting compromise would be to have re-takes allowed on tests throughout the term, but have the final be a one-shot deal. That would be a check on whether the student had learned the material, or simply memorized the answers to the other tests.

 
At 1/15/09, 1:56 PM, Blogger Mrs. T said...

I think it's crap. Yes, for a few students, a very few, this enables them that 2nd or 3rd shot at proving they know the material. But, for many others, it encourages them to be lazy and irresponsible. Night before a test? No worries, go ahead, stay up until 3 am playing Halo 3 and texting your friends. You can always retake that test- and think how much easier it'll be once you've had a chance to look it over.
That being said, I do allow the rare retest for the kid who is ill or who has experienced a death in the family or who is having an off-day. But, I make it clear that it's not to become a habit, and that I will average the grades earned on the first attempt and the retake.

 
At 1/24/09, 7:05 PM, Blogger SciGuy said...

At the middle-school level (where I teach) it really doesn't seem to matter. Kids who don't study and bomb the test also aren't responsible enought to come in to retake the test... and if they do come to tutorials to retake the test they just bomb it again...

Sigh...

 

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