Wednesday, April 3, 2013

12 Steps to Creating a Successful Redo and Retake Policy

The following is a follow-up to my post on redos and retakes. 
Implementing redos and retakes takes extra time and effort, but the following guidelines minimize teacher effort and maximizes student learning.

1.     To ensure students understand your high standards, instead of assigning A-F grades, use A, B and Not Yet. The Not Yet tells students that you are not yet satisfied with their learning, but have faith in their ability to learn.
2.     When students fail a quiz, test or project, require them to complete a Retake Ticket or Reflection like this one. The Retake Ticket requires students to reflect how they prepared for the original assessment, describe how they’ll prepare differently and includes requirements and due dates. Some teachers require parent signatures on the form or an informal meeting with the student.
3.     One of the most important aspects of redos and retakes is that corrective instruction should occur. Originally, I required each student to attend an after-school study session, but this proved too burdensome for some students. Instead, I created a series of podcasts and worksheets for students. I also made use of youtube videos, graphic organizers and study guides.
4.     Don’t let students off the hook. Require that they complete all missing assignments before retaking the quiz/test.
5.     If students are retaking a quiz/test, don’t use the same test. The idea behind redos and retakes is for the students to master the essential understandings not to memorize the answers (A, B, D, D, C, F, etc. or Rome, Caesar, Pax Romana, Increased, etc).
6.     Instead of using the same test, change the question style from a multiple choice to short answer or essay.
7.     Another strategy I used was instead of requiring a retest, have the student show mastery in another manner (essay, project, etc.)
8.     For students who were close to achieving mastery on a quiz, instead of requiring students do go through several hoops and hurdles, I met with the students and discussed the quiz’s content with the students to see if they mastered the essentials. These brief discussions were great timesavers and allowed me to provide pinpointed and individualized instruction and allowed students to prove they mastered the essential understandings.
9.     Don’t average the scores. The new score should replace the old one. Mastery is mastery. It shouldn’t matter if it took the student one or three attempts to master the essentials.
10. Don’t redo or retest on everything. Each of my tests was divided into sections based on various standards. If a student did poorly on one section, but did well on the rest of the sections, only require the student to retake the “poor section.”
11. Everyone is eligible for retakes and redos. High-achieving students who earned B on quizzes, were allowed retakes.
12. If a student continually fails—and I did have them—focus on improvement and seek answers to why this student is struggling.


Kris Stewart said...

How did you meet with the students individually during the school day? How did you manage the classroom while working individually with one student?

Reed Gillespie said...

Thanks for reading Kris. We're on block scheduling so each day I tended to schedule some sort of desk work (individual, group, partner) that would enable me to circulate to not only help on the assignment but also to hand back/discuss a prior quiz/test. Sometimes, I'd meet with the students as a group. For example, if several students did poorly on the essay portion of the test, I'd conduct a group session to reteach and address some of the problems and suggest potential fixes.

Did I occasionally have problems keeping students on task while working with another group? Yes. But for the most part students knew what was expected of them, and if I did my job and created engaging lessons/activities classroom management wasn't a problem.

Eric Langhorst said...

Thanks for sharing what has worked for you. We have used some similar policies in my 8th grade American History classroom for the past two years. I have found that a "ticket" or what we call a "Retake Form"" has been an important part of the process. Here is a copy of what we have used - simple but effective for us :

Eric Langhorst

Reed Gillespie said...

Thanks for sharing your retake form. I agree that it is an important part of the process in that it builds meta-cognitive skills through the reflective process.

Marjan Glavac said...

Hi Reed,

Really enjoyed your article. I included it in this week's June 6th 2013 edition of The Busy Educator Newsletter found here:

Keep up the great work,
Marjan Glavac

Unknown said...


I too am a firm believer in allowing for retakes. I constantly on the hunt to improve upon this system and I happened to stumble upon this blog via Twitter.

I use a test and quiz retake form. It is much like yours but I like the fact that you incorporate a written reflection component in your ticket. I am wondering if you mind if I use some of your wording in my newly revised quiz/test retake form.

Kevin Buran

Reed Gillespie said...

Thanks. Of course, you can steal/borrow/copy whatever you'd like.

PB&J said...

This is great! I used your form and tweaked it a bit for my class. You just saved me a ton of time trying to create my own. It was exactly what I was looking for. I just shared on Twitter with my PLC.

Leigh Wagner said...

Do you allow the students to take home the original test to do the corrections or do they have to come in before or after school? I wouldn't give them the same test but I do like to reuse questions from year to year when they are high quality, and would feel uncomfortable with them floating around.

Leigh Wagner said...

One more thing, as per your late policy, do the kids that have work that is past the deadline not get to retake because they cannot make up their assigned work? Thank you! (and I apologize for all the questions but I'm really enjoying your blog and want to implement your policies)

Reed Gillespie said...

Sorry for the delay in getting back to you and thanks for reading and the complements.

For whatever the reason I never really seemed to have too much trouble with students sharing tests from year-to-year. Like you my tests were constantly changing (in part to foil cheating and in part because I was never happy with my previous work). I'm sure there was some "sharing," but the answers were always sorted so I guess I always rationalized by saying "as long as the student is learning/can answer correctly, I'm OK with it."

Your question regarding late work is a tough one because I always battled with it. If it was a BIG assignment (and those tended to be the only ones I graded anyway), I was doing anything and everything before the deadline to make sure the student completed it before the deadline arrived. If the student met the deadline but his/her work wasn't satisfactory, I did allow them to redo the assignment.

Unknown said...

I'm interested in the policy of mastery is mastery. Some SBG people are choosing to give more weight to latest but to report on prior attempts. I understand both pts of view. When I think of school as a practice for real world tasks, I think it matters if it takes you three times to get it right. 3 times isn't a charm in finance and medicine. The child who eventually gets the work is arguably not as intellectually able as a child who gets it the first time. Similarly, the child who keeps trying until they get it has a level of persistence that will do well for them whereas the child to whom everything comes easy may have some learning lessons ahead about how to deal with failure. Are we sure we don't want to know the difference between these children down the road?

Reed Gillespie said...

I definitely fall into the only counting the most recent attempt. Sure, doctors--and their patients-- don't always get a second chance to perform a surgery, but think of all the practice opportunities they get leading up to the real deal.

Rarely did I have students take advantage of the redo (I'm not going to study because I know I can redo it because the requirements for learning and redoing it were strenuous). If I were to average grades, I think it unfairly punishes struggling students. Additionally, if I were to average the two grades, the motivation for the student to retake it would be diminished (For example, a student who scored a 50% on the test would need to average a 90% on the retake just to earn a 70%. For many students that's unrealistic and too daunting).

I'd much prefer instilling my students with the belief that learning is a process, one that requires hard work, determination and a can-do attitude.

Frank said...

Couple questions for you because this sounds great and something I will give a try in our district? First, at the high school level how does or does it at all affect the Val and Sal race? Second, can someone that retakes a test or assignment score higher percentage wise than someone that received a low A first time?

Chadalee Jordahl said...

Thank you for this! You answered my questions! I'm a first year English teacher, and just now figuring out that maybe redos/retakes will help. Now to create a better system for next year... Thanks a ton!

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