If a student receives a bad test score, how do you interpret it? Would you allow the student to retake a modified version of the test?
— B. , Ohio
There are many possible interpretations of a poor score on a test.
Knowing your students and developing an assessment practice in your classroom that gives you and your students constant feedback on performance is essential to successful teaching. A quick look at your gradebook should easily identify a poor test score as an anomaly or a fair assessment.
If it is an anomaly, you should consider if the student was ill or missed some work. Do you know if events outside school could be a factor? Are things like test anxiety and organizational difficulties possible concerns? Did the student simply need more time?
Reflect on your role: Were the questions unexpected or confusing? Was the test poorly scheduled? Was there ample time to prepare? Did you give adequate feedback on returned work?
Students need to learn how to prepare for and take a test. Give them simple tips like bypassing difficult questions until later, pacing themselves, and that erasing is a waste of time—they should simply strike through passages they changed (you may want to have extra copies of the test or blank paper available). Suggest how to organize themselves and plan their study time. Encourage re-writing notes, and anticipating questions.
I would certainly allow the student a second attempt. Don’t just give another date and general encouragement to study more. Arrange for some remedial work or one-on-one time. Informing the parents can shed light on the issue and will allow them to support their child’s preparation. Consider having the student only retake missed questions or modifying the format.
Hope this helps!
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