A Simple Tool to Help Make the Retake Process Less Chaotic

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Part of placing value on the process of learning means giving students multiple opportunities to demonstrate understanding. As a result, retakes are an inevitable part of the process. For many teachers, especially those at larger schools, allowing students to retake assessments is not a philosophical problem, but a logistical one. While creating a whole new assessment has its own baggage, the process of re-learning and the scheduling of who will retake what and when can be overwhelming. To help streamline the entire process, I would like to share a simple strategy that anyone can replicate in a short amount of time, which I have found to help bring a bit of sanity to the organization of the retake process.

When I first started to allow retakes, my system had dramatic flaws. In fact, I am hesitant to even give it the courtesy of calling it a system. I simply told students to let me know when, what, and where they wanted to retake. One student might tell me this information in person while another would send me a message using our LMS. Sometimes the information they provided was incomplete and I would have to chase them down to confirm. Regardless, I would typically write this down somewhere or, even worse, leave it to my memory. This all started to quickly spiral out of control as I was bombarded with messages late at night or approached by students during random times throughout the school day. Each retake request required me to divert my attention from whatever I was doing in that moment so I could write myself a little reminder. To make matters worse, sometimes students would completely change the information they had previously given me and I would have to go back and edit whatever I had originally written down. All of this required the additional step of me generating little reminders to myself on top of the list of obligations and tasks that are a natural part of our profession. My system was designed to fail from the start and, eventually, it did. Something had to change.

After reading a bit about how others implemented their retake policies, I eventually came across a strategy that involved using Google Forms to generate a Reassessment Request Form. By using a specific Add-On within the form, all the student’s answers would be automatically emailed to the teacher in a nice and simplified way. This was exactly what I was looking for—basically a personal assistant to handle the grunge work of scheduling and identifying important information. With a little bit of tweaking to make it fit my needs, here is what I eventually started to do.

 

Creating a Reassessment Request Form from ChemEd Xchange on Vimeo.

 

Compared to the lack of structure I had in place before, implementing this simple tool has helped me allocate my attention, time, and cognitive load to things higher on my priority list. I spend less time worrying about the logistics of the retake and more time focusing on helping my students better understand chemistry.

If you have your own retake policy, how do you go about actually executing it? Feel free to share any tips or tools that you think would be useful!

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Comments 10

Chad Husting's picture
Chad Husting | Tue, 05/22/2018 - 12:50

Ben - I totally love this!  I plan on doing a version of this for make up work.  It is quick, fast, easy and cheap.  Just my style.  Thanks again.

Donna Engel | Wed, 05/23/2018 - 07:28

Ben,

We implemented a protocol to assist with our retakes.  Students must have the protocol sheet signed by parents.  Students must attend two tutoring sessions either during their study hall with a resource teacher or after school with their classroom teacher, and students must complete a review packet prior to taking the reassessment.

Ben Meacham's picture
Ben Meacham | Wed, 05/23/2018 - 14:14

Hey Donna,

Thank you for sharing.  I have a couple questions about the protocol that I'm hoping you can clarify since I'm trying to develop a better protocol of my own.

1) Do you check the review packet for accuracy?  I keep struggling to try and find an efficient way for checking that re-learning has occurred prior to the reassessment.

2) Do you require them to retake the entire assessment and therefore the entire review packet?  

3) Do you have a system in place for helping students identify the area(s) of weakness that they need to focus on while re-learning?

Thanks!

Elizabeth Hamann | Fri, 05/25/2018 - 09:29

Retakes are a hot button topic in my building.  Teachers dont want to feel like they are doing more work than the students.  This year I implemented a "Resource Packet" that must be completed and checked by me if students want to make up a test.  In addition they have to score below a 70% on the original exam.  While every student was given a resource packet for every unit (a large amt of paper) only a handful of students took advantage of the opportunity.  However, I did find that those students who completed the resource packet didn't score below a 70%!  (It might be working!)  I find my more confident students don't need or want to do the extra work, my lower level students are not motivated to do extra work (let alone the required work).  The resource packet seemed to help the mid-level student who needed more face time with me.  This gave them a great reason to see me before or after school!   

Kathe Hetter's picture
Kathe Hetter | Fri, 05/25/2018 - 13:07

I do standards based grading/learning objectives.  Each question/problem on a summative assessment has the learning objective(s) next to it.  Students have a bubble sheet that I fill out.  It is created using Illuminate in the rubric format.  Let's say I decide one problem is worth a total of 4 points.  I may then have four bubbles (A, B, C, D).  If they problem was done correctly, I bubble in "D".  If not completely correct by a minor error then I would bubble in a B or C.  Since each question is put in question groups by learning objective, I can then print a report that gives them their overall percentage grade for the entire assessment.  The best part is that it breaks it down into the scores for each learning objective.  Students have to achieve an 80% on each learning objective.  If they do this for 4 out of the 5 learning objectives, then we both know exactly what they need to work on.  It gives the students very positive feedback.  I can tell them that yes, you may not have mastered that learning objective, but look you did for all the others.  In our grade system, Power School, I then have each learning objective down with its total points instead of one test grade.  This is my second year doing this and I have only had very positie feedback from both students and parents.  I have had students who have had a overall percentage of greater than 90%, but may have not mastered one standard.  They have the option of going back and retesting that standard.  It makes things a lot simplier when you break down your assessments into the learning objectives (outcomes).  It also gives me feedback if there is one learning objective that the majority of students did not master.  Obviously, that lets me know that I need to reflect on my approach to presenting this objective and reteach.

Donna Engel | Tue, 05/29/2018 - 07:57

Hi Ben,

We do check the review packet for accuracy however it is not for a grade.  We also created short reviews based on skills.  Our assessments are written linked to "I can" statements so students can review and determine which areas need to be improved/reassessed with their classroom teacher  One concern when we initially started was that students would purposely fail or not prepare because of the reassessment opportunity.  Since we have a protocol in place which requires more work that has negated that concern.  The only issue we have is students not wanting to be reassessed especially at the ninth grade level.  

Doug Ragan's picture
Doug Ragan | Wed, 05/30/2018 - 06:00

While looking for some good MC question websites for Chemistry for varying assessments I came across http://www.problem-attic.com/. Using the free creator and really impressed so far with its list of questions by topic. Saw an AP section but haven’t checked it out yet. 

Catalina Mejia | Sat, 06/02/2018 - 10:15

Hi. I was wondering how you structure your tests so that you and your students can easily identify the learning targets. Does each target have a separate section of the test? Are your tests online? I'm interested in applying this request form for next school year, it's a wonderful way to organize retakes!! Thank you!

Ben Meacham's picture
Ben Meacham | Mon, 06/04/2018 - 20:02

Catalina,

Yes, each learning target is given a separate section of the test. I have added a sample test in the supporting information. It will show you an example test I give during our reactions unit and how a test can be structured according to learning targets.  Our tests are not online.

Glad to hear you liked the idea!  Hope it helps serve a purpose.

Lauren Stewart's picture
Lauren Stewart | Mon, 06/04/2018 - 10:28

When I switched to SBG, reassessments were a nightmare. I just ended up having piles of post-it notes on my desk! I also switched to a Google Form and add-on but I take it one step further with Autocrat. Once students enter their information into the form, Autocrat then generates a Google Doc with all of their information in it. I just click through the list of Google Docs every morning, type in questions, print them out and my reassessments are good to go for the day. Since I use SBG, I write around 20 reassessments a day but it only takes me 10-15 minutes every morning with this system. I wrote a quick walk-through on my blog a few years ago: https://modelsofar.wordpress.com/2015/07/15/autocrat-for-reassessments/