Activity 3-A-2 Student retakes

Being a teacher of a career pathway’s course, it’s important that I am preparing students for a career in the particular field. I try to make connections with the content to the real world throughout the course. In the real world, you may not always get a second chance. So, why should a student get to retake an exam? If they didn’t prepare for an interview, and performed poorly, chances are they aren’t going to get the job. No second chance interview.

I’m sure we have all come across a student who is just struggles with taking exams. Test can bring upon added anxiety for students inhibiting their chances to perform at their best ability. High school students have a lot of pressure on them to get good grades. They need to make the grade for acceptance into college, maintain an honor roll status or maintain eligibility for sports teams.

So, a student does all of their homework and has studied hard, and they think they have material nailed down. They participated and did really well in the classroom reviews. But then the day of the test comes. The results show just the opposite. The student has just failed the test. Should you offer a chance to retake the test or make corrections?

Our school’s athletic motto is “ We don’t lose, we learn.” Performing poorly on a test could provide a valuable learning experience. I like the idea posted on meachteach’s blog, where she gives students an alternative assessment to complete, not just redo the test. For her math students, she has them create step-by-step tutorial videos of the problems. It gives the student an opportunity to share their true understanding of the topics, without the added pressure of the exam. It can also provide a real life experience that second chances exist, if students are willing to put the effort into making it better.


15 thoughts on “Activity 3-A-2 Student retakes

  1. Hi,
    My district also allows students opportunities to complete re-tests if desired. This is something that makes sense in my mind, as we are wanting children to learn the material; they may not be able to master it based on our timeline. If I am thinking about other areas where students have ‘re-tests’, it happens more frequently than we may realize. For example, if a college student does not do well on the Praxis I exams, an opportunity to re-test is available (the student needs to pay for it again). When we think about other standardized tests, students have opportunities to re-take them, if they desire (SAT, PSAT, ACT, etc.).

    You mentioned giving students another assessment; do they have an opportunity to correct what they did wrong on the test? I love the idea of students creating a video to demonstrate their knowledge retention!

    In your district, are students required to “do more work” in order to take advantage of the re-test? In my district, it almost becomes a burden to re-test something because of the work needed to prove a student is now ready to take the re-test.

    What a great topic for us to consider!



    • Shawn- There isn’t a policy if place that students have to offer a retake. I like your district’s policy of having to prove they prepared for the retake. Unlike test corrections, doing extra work for a retake will hopefully encourage students to try and perform better the first time.


  2. Our school does not have a specific policy for retaking tests. It is up to the individual teacher. In 4th grade, we usually identify the student that struggle on tests at the beginning of the year. These students take the tests with our resource teacher in a small group. Her goal is to teach the students strategies for test taking success. We hope that by the end of the year, they are back in the room taking the test with everyone else. We know our students and what they are capable of. If a student who normally does well fails a test, I usually sit them down and ask some questions. Did they study? Was there something they didn’t understand or misunderstood. If it is obvious they were confused, I will have them redo that particular section. I know my son’s 7th grad math teacher let them correct their math tests for 1/2 credit. This is very helpful to a child who struggles taking math tests! I am not in this for students to fail. If there is a way to help them succeed, then they deserve a chance 🙂


  3. Justin,
    I think the topic of retakes and whether they are appropriate is very interesting. I could definitely make arguments for either side because there are very logical reasons why students shouldn’t be able to retake a test, but in the same breath there are very logical reasons as to why some students should be a given another chance. I was faced with this question last year during the school year. There was one child who would get very nervous on tests and sometimes would not do well. Her mother was constantly was making excuses for her and wanted me to let her retake every test that she did not do well on. I struggled with these decisions and ended up compromising at times. There were some tests that she was allowed to make up, and some that she wasn’t. I absolutely love the idea that you posted from meachteach’s blog and would definitely use that idea as an alternative to retaking the same test over again. Love this topic and look forward to reading the responses of others!


  4. This is a very controversial topic in our district! Our students are able to take advantage of Second Chance Learning (SCL) When it was first introduced nobody seemed to have clear guidelines as to how it should be implemented. Students were using it more as a crutch than an opportunity. If they didn’t study for the first round, they knew they could get a glimpse of what to expect and try it again. Now, I tell students they must earn it–it’s not a right, it’s a privilege. In order to qualify for SCL, they must complete all their homework and class assignments. They must also come see me during our resource period to go over all the incorrect problems on their test. After they do that, they must find time to retake the assessment. Once they were required to do a bit more than just retake the test, they started putting a bit more effort in before the first assessment and didn’t need SCL. I do like the idea of having them make a video. Hasn’t it been said that in order to teach something you must know the material inside and out? It makes perfect sense!


  5. I’m all about giving students second chances, but as Sharon mentioned in her post I think they need to earn it. They have to show me as a teacher that they put forth all the effort they possibly could (taking notes during class, turning in assignments, participating in class discussions, etc.).

    Justin–Maybe to make it more like the real world, you can give each student 2 second chances through-out the semester, and when they use those up then they are done. You certainly do get second chances in the real world, but they definitely are not unlimited.


  6. Justin,

    This is a an important topic to discuss. The school I work at does not have any real clear guidelines on how to handle student retakes. It is up to the teacher and often depends largely on the student it involves. If the student has an IEP, 504 Plan, or is an English-Language Learner they are almost always given an extended amount of time or a second opportunity. For other students it really depends on how much effort they put into the class ahead of time. If you have seen them working hard and they simply ran out of time or got distracted by peers, then allowing a retake or extended time is acceptable. However, if the student has not put in any effort leading up to the assessment, then their grade should reflect that without the opportunity for a retake.



    • Tom- Good point with students who don’t put in the effort leading up to the assessment. The retake should require an “extra” effort in order for it to take. That way it would deter students from simply just choosing to “see how they do” and take a retest if things don’t work out the first time.

      Liked by 1 person

  7. Hi Justin!

    Wow! That was not where I thought your post was going when I first began reading! Since the beginning made me “bristle”, you sucked me in! 🙂

    You make good points about both sides of the re-take scenario. Many first impressions or first attempts are the only ones we get. Making sure we are ready for them is important. In my classes, students know they can redo assignments as often as they want until they get the grade they want as long as they attempted to do it the first time. This trial and error is how they learn. The learning hopefully takes place before the “first impression”!



  8. This was a great discussion on whether or not to offer test retakes! Some school districts have a set policy in place, while others leave it up to the teachers. Each teacher seems to use what works best with his or her students. We all agree that the ultimate goal is for the student to learn the content and life lessons as well. As educators, we want to ensure that retakes are being used accordingly. It seems like retakes give students an opportunity to learn the material, rather than just giving up on them. Ultimately, I think we need to look at why the student failed and do our best to make sure they are learning. Students may perform poorly for various reasons. It’s important that our students recognize that we care for them and will support them throughout their struggles.


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