Peet ninth grade teachers wrestling with advantages, abuses of providing student allowances for retaking assessments

In ninth grade, teachers are struggling with deciding whether retakes are good for the students learning or just creating bad habits for the future. The district is making a push to emphasize that learning is an ongoing process, but currently, some students take advantage of the opportunity to retake while others abuse it, and teachers are having a hard time finding the balance between whether retakes should be acceptable or not. Most teachers see it as a better learning opportunity, and most students see it as a way to improve their grades.

Peet Principal Bill Boevers said he believes that retakes are helpful and may even help students as they continue into high school, potentially college and even in their careers. “I believe it will be helpful for kids to learn the essentials. This will put them in a position to be successful in other courses,” he said.

While Boevers knows that there may be some who abuse the ability to retake tests, he said that, “most kids know it is easier to just learn it the first time and not make more work for themselves.”

Peet ninth grade history teacher Sarah Carlson sees only the positives of the retake policy. “I think retakes are beneficial because student grades are based on their learning. I do not assign assessed work for no reason. I feel it is important and essential. If a student shows learning isn’t happening on an assessment or formative work, then that student may need more support, had something disrupt their learning, need feedback, need a new way of presenting information, etc. As collaborative teams, we decide what is essential for all students, so my job is to ensure students learn all the essentials,” Carlson said.

Carlson allows students to retake any work except for the end of the quarter summative assessments. “I think retakes are beneficial because it helps me understand student deficiencies in the learning process and helps me evaluate my teaching practice. It also ensures students are meeting proficiency and are able to move on to new skills or continue practicing skills,” Carlson said.

Many students and teachers worry that with the retake policy, a student’s sophomore year could come as a shock. Carlson disagrees and has faith that the students will still be able to adjust. “I think students adapt to the situations they are in, just like you do when you get a new job or you move to a new city or country. As ninth graders become 10th graders and enter the high school, they will learn about the expectations from their teachers and adapt to the situation,” Carlson said.

Peet ninth grade math teacher Mary Watson said she thinks that the retake policy will definitely help kids in the long run. “Yes, not every student understands every part of a topic on the first try. Retakes stress the importance of continuing to learn even after an assessment. If students aren’t allowed to do retakes and they fail an assessment, in the past they would just move on and never need to go back and learn that material. They could potentially pass a class having little to no understanding of an entire unit.  This can be a problem long term for concepts that are necessary later on,” Watson said.

Watson said she understands that many students abuse their ability to retake tests. “Absolutely,  some students have the attitude that they don’t need to study or work hard to understand the first time because they can just retake an assessment. I think we need to have a better system for designating when a student has shown that they put in appropriate work prior to the test before they are allowed a retake,” Watson said.

Watson said that some students have certain habits in place when it comes to being able to retake tests that may give them struggles at the high school. “However, the research shows that allowing retakes improves students learning, so I don’t think we should discard the idea just because that isn’t the current policy at the high school,” Watson said. “I think policies at the high school will be changing, so that teachers at all levels will be allowing retakes. In which case, our retake policies here will set students on the right path to focus on their learning and making sure that they are continuing to work to be successful even after a topic has been assessed.”

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