Over the past year and a half I have been tinkering with re-do’s (re-tests or re-assessments) and rolling grades (grades that do not get set until the end of the semester) with my Biology 12 classes. Assessment is both a volatile and emotional topic for teachers, parents and students. I want to emphasis that what I am sharing is still in progress; I am not there yet but I am trying to get there! I am not an expert in this area, this is still relatively new for me and I am still learning.
Re-Do Policy Fleshed Out
1. Students complete an application form and get it to me by the end of the day on Tuesdays. At this time I might have a quick discussion with them about what went wrong the first time. If I have not already done so in class, I might ask them a couple of quick questions about the content. If it appears the student has no new or significant evidence of their learning, I might suggest they wait until the following Thursday. The application is the basis for a meaningful discussion and it is not black and white (they fill it out and they re-write). I have had students show up on a Thursday morning (re-do morning) with no application turned in and have sent them away. I want the re-do to be something they plan for and commit to in advance. As I say to them: “You are not going to Vegas to gamble!”
2. Re-do’s happen outside of class time on Thursday before school or after with no exceptions. If a student says “I can’t make it this Thursday.” I respond with “choose a Thursday you can make.” This avoids the “I have a spare Monday afternoon” runaway train of individual appointments that I can’t track or manage.
3. There is a two-week black-out period at the end of the semester (and is highlighted on our class calendar). This provides me the time I need to focus on end of the year activities, report card deadlines, final exams, etc. I did not do this last year and ended up feeling overwhelmed.
4. Re-do’s are a privilege, not a right. If I think they are trying to game me or take advantage of the opportunity I have the right to refuse their application, or we defer it until I see they have committed to the intent of the process.
5. Re-do’s are open to all students regardless of grade.
6. The most recent mark is the mark that will be used. I call this “rolling grades” and grades continue to roll all the way to the final exam (this semester there are 3 parts to the final: a written portion, portfolio presentation and an exit interview, but that is another post!) which is when the grades will stop rolling.
7. A limit of 2 redo’s per semester.
General Insights from working with Re-Do’s
1. I needed to define my limits in terms of time and energy in the policy. Sometimes this is hard for teachers to do, but making this policy made it easier for me to define those limits.
2. The idea of a “re-do’ is new for students and I needed to talk about both re-do’s and rolling grades on a daily basis. I know that sounds unbelievable, but I had students in last month of the semester ask incredulously “You mean I can re-do that test I bombed back in September?” Students see marks as set in stone so it takes time and many conversations before they begin to intuitively understand how it works.
3. I am using written assessments and no longer use multiple choice tests (Good bye multiple choice! Good-bye?). Re-do tests are very similar to the original; questions follow the standards for the course that we use in class on a regular basis.
4. If a student never chooses a re-do, they can still show what they know on a topic on the midterm and/or final exam, and their mark will roll with the most recent information (so in essence both the midterm and final exams are re-do’s).
5. Tests have an advanced and core questions; students can omit the advanced part if they are struggling to keep up and can challenge at a later date. Last semester I had several students who struggled with advanced questions but were ready to challenge these questions by the end of the semester with much success (it was pretty neat to see :) ).
How about you? Do have re-do’s in your class? Would love to hear!