Thursday, September 29, 2011

Test Corrections

In an effort to encourage students to learn from their mistakes, I allow students to correct their tests (and quizzes) to earn back half credit.  I started doing this instead of retakes since many kids just want to immediately retake the test without going back and learning what they didn't understand the first time around.  I like some of what I've seen where teachers require proof of remediation in Standards Based Grading, but this works for me for now.

Originally the process was: student shows up after school, we sit down with lined paper and their test and go through the whole test, I give them some extra points.  This was fine, but not many kids were taking advantage, and it was really time consuming for me.  Then at a department meeting our head teacher shared an article about tests as part of the learning process (as opposed to coming after the learning), we shared our methods of doing re-takes/correcting tests and then came up with a template for correcting tests.  We don't all use the exact same one, but I really like this one:

Test Corrections
Reflection in actual sentences is really important in my class (students journal daily) so I have students start filling out the questions on the first page while I'm handing back the tests.  At the beginning of the year we spend quite a bit of class time correcting tests together.  I hear some good conversations between students trying to figure out the differences between their answers and I am able to circulate and check in with the students who had more striking deficiencies.  As the year goes on we won't spend quite so much class time working on corrections, but I do try to give them as much time as possible because chances are kids need some help and if we do it in class they will be more likely to analyze their answer than just take a guess and hand it back in.

Guessing won't actually get you anywhere on a correction page.  It's fine to guess on the test (I'd always rather they write something than leave a question blank) but I am quite serious about the "No explanation = No credit" statement.  They need to fill in all 3 columns- what they are correcting, why they got it wrong the first time and why their new solution is correct.  I'm not looking for an essay, since I teach mostly Geometry they can get away with a nice drawing most of the time to explain their point, but there has to be something.

So far, so good this year.  It's nice to see most of the kids trying to learn from their mistakes.  Plus, the reflection questions give me some good early insights.  They tell me who is working really hard and still struggling (I studied for hours, thought I was totally ready and then bombed!) vs. who isn't very invested (actual quote from today "I don't study") vs. who has low expectations (I'm happy that I didn't fail).  This information influences how I approach students, plus I think they like the opportunity to share their experience.

I'm also doing this with quizzes this year (I have a half sheet version) but I may only allow them to correct the following class and after that they have to retake?  Not sure yet, still in the "How do you not know all the routines and norms yet?? Oh yeah, you're all new, I forget it's only September." mode and until we have settled in I'm not sure how that new addition will play out.  To end, a cute drawing a student made who got a 100% on her quiz:


  1. Thank you for this post! I started doing quiz corrections and was somewhat disheartened by the number of students who took advantage of the opportunity to earn half of the points they missed back. I asked them to explain what they did wrong, show/explain how to get the right answer on a separate piece of loose leaf. I think I am going to steal your doc for quiz corrections because providing students with the template may encourage more to partake in the opportunity. I really want students to learn from their mistakes and understand the content so ultimately I'd like EVERYONE to turn one in.

    Do you have suggestions on quiz format? You mentioned a half sheet? My school does not allow for test corrections but they do allow for quiz corrections and out of 65 students last quiz only 6 students turned them in (and none of the actual failing students). I would love to hear more about your procedures. Do all students have to fill out the first sheet? Thanks for all your help! Love the blog.

  2. Thanks for stopping by! I think the key is to start the quiz corrections as an in class activity along the lines of "Okay, now everyone fill in the reflection questions while we hand back the quiz. .... So, I noticed a lot of people had trouble with ____ let's fix that one together. ... Now let's take 5-10 minutes to correct the rest and then be sure to staple and hand them in when you're done." After the first time, going over ones everyone got wrong is good, but the rest can be assigned for homework if you're short on class time because they've seen the benefit of corrections.

    Link to the quiz correction sheet:


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