When thinking about mastery and student learning over time, it is almost impossible not to think about reassessment. Philosophically, if you believe in allowing students to retake assessments, you may struggle with the application of this belief in actual classrooms. The question is not whether students shall be allowed to reassess, but instead, how to reassess effectively. So, when a student takes an initial assessment and performs below required proficiency, what happens next? The following steps will guide the creation of your own reassessment procedures.
1. Conference with the student. Part of building relationships with students is communicating openly with them about expectations and learning. As soon as you realize a student is not meeting proficiency, have a conversation and begin to make a plan.
2. Set a timeline for reteaching and reassessment. During the conference, set up a schedule for reteaching to provide time and support for the student to demonstrate successful learning. This must always occur before students are allowed to reassess. If reteaching does not occur, how can a student be expected to perform at a higher level? Also, schedule the reassessment. Due to obvious time constraints, there must be a sense of urgency to complete the reassessment. Some districts use a reassessment contract requiring student and/or parent signatures in order for students to retake assessments.
3. Provide reteaching opportunities. Just like teachers, students are busy! They are taking many classes and may also be involved in activities outside of the normal school day. It is important to provide varied opportunities for them to receive help within the reteaching timeframe. Maybe the student needs to come in before or after school or during study hall, or maybe they can watch a video at home and complete alternate assignments to demonstrate their learning, or perhaps another teacher could provide additional instruction. Remember, reteaching is not about punishment, it is about the end goal—learning. It doesn’t have to be epic; in actuality, reteaching may only take a few minutes.
4. Contact help when needed. Oftentimes, if a student is struggling on multiple assessments in one subject area, he or she will also be having trouble in other subjects. A teacher won’t always know how a student is performing in other courses; however, counselors and parents should. If a student continually struggles and is caught up in a reassessment cycle, it is imperative that the cycle is broken before the student gives up. There could be a placement issue or a need for a special education referral. Maybe the student is going through some emotional struggles due to something happening at home. A sure sign of trouble is when a student is not meeting the timelines agreed upon within the reassessment conference. If this is the case, reach out to the people who can help as soon as you can.
5. Provide a reassessment that is different from the original assessment. It is always wise to have more than one version of an assessment. If students know the reassessment is exactly the same as the original assessment, it is very easy for them not to prepare and to use the original assessment as a “practice” assessment. Remember, it is important that you know what they know—not what they memorized after taking the first assessment.
6. Decide whether the student needs to retake the entire assessment, or just a part. In many cases, summative assessments contain individual questions that require students to apply multiple skills or varied knowledge in order to answer them. In these cases, students would more than likely need to retake the entire assessment. However, an assessment may also contain very specialized questions related to one specific skill or piece of knowledge. If students perform poorly on these types of questions, they may not need to take the entire assessment over again. They could just retake the parts that relate to that skill or knowledge. Particularly on project-based assessments, the student may need to improve only portions of their project—not redo the entire project.
7. Decide how retakes will be scored. Grading typically falls under district guidelines and policies. It is important for all teachers to follow the same reassessment rules. Will the most recent reassessment score replace the original? Will the highest score be taken? Follow district approved procedures for recording the appropriate score.