Does EHS’ new retake policy have a positive effect on students?
March 26, 2019
art by Gillian Mousseau
EHS retake policy should remain the same
Since the dawn of time, humans have been stressed by tests. This one dreadful emotion is ever present: from a neanderthal facing down a hungry animal to a teenager trying to get by in a class. A big reason for our stress is the fear of failure–you don’t want to fail math, so, you spend all night studying concepts only vaguely familiar to you. And when you do fail that test, all the stress comes crashing down on you until you’re overwhelmed and near hysterics. This is where retakes come to your rescue.
We all deserve second chances. I’m very sure that there are larger forces at play when you fail your math test on two hours of sleep and five hours of unhelpful studying. Failing a test doesn’t mean that you’re dumb, it just means you don’t understand the concepts. Retakes are an opportunity to relearn material at your own pace and work towards a better grade in the class. However, this doesn’t mean Edina High School should have a more lax retake policy: the 75% cap is more than enough.
There’s a reason for that cap: retakes should only be available to students who actually don’t know the course material. The actual process of relearning your course material and meeting with your teacher to go over what you missed is extremely beneficial. A retake afterward would help solidify your learning. You can still go through the process even if you don’t score under 75%, that’s called being a diligent student.
With a more lax policy, students would be compelled to continuously retake tests until they get their desired score. Teachers dislike retakes specifically for this reason, as several popular teacher forums report, such as TeacherDiscovery, the reason being the fact that retakes artificially inflate grades and don’t give teachers an accurate reading of where their class is at by the end of the semester. Furthermore, retakes don’t actually do you any good. Focusing on course material from a previous unit hinders you from learning new material: it’s essentially double the homework.
The cap better reflects your performance in the class. Everyone should have the opportunity to retake up to 75%, it’s a base level which lets the teacher know who’s struggling in the class and who isn’t. Besides, 75% is way better than failing the class.
Even if you’re salty because you got 76%, the score more or less represents your comprehension of the material– maybe you should meet your teacher during flex and go over what you got wrong.
The retake policy as we know it inspires students to do better in class. We don’t need artificial inflation or the ability to retake to 100%; teachers already have processes in place to help us re-learn material and achieve a better score on our next test. We just need to do a better job of utilizing our teachers and the knowledge they have. If you want to know more about a class you’re struggling in, just ask your teacher! I’m sure they’d be more than happy to help.
Due to its past edginess, disregard everything that was in Sophomore Anjali’s bio. She is a functioning human being and Totally Not an Internet Bot!™....
EHS retake policy aims to instill perfection rather than fostering growth
We have all been in that situation when the highly anticipated yellow dot pops up on Schoology, and as we hesitantly click on it and watch the gradebook come up, our stomachs drop at the sight we see. As much as we tried to avoid these moments of despair, getting bad grades once in a while is inevitable: they’re bound to happen.
This is due to the fact that mistakes are perhaps the most important part of the learning process, and how we respond to and rebound from these errors is the most important sign of growth. Second-chances and mistakes are the norms of the real world; no one is expected to be perfect. One mistake or misfortune shouldn’t be able to determine the course of our success in an area. The 70-75% cap on the retake policy at Edina High School is obstructive and misleading when it comes to enhancing and representing our growth and learning.
After one slip-up, despite the plans we make to meet with a teacher during flex and review and study over the week, the mellow barrier of the retake cap still looms over our head as we try to reassess our knowledge and advance in the coursework. Even more disappointing is the fact that this barrier may hinder our motivation to fully learn the material. For example, wouldn’t we be more driven to study for a test knowing that we are aiming for the full 100%, rather than a mere 75%? This barrier that is set before we even begin to start the process of re-learning isn’t effective when it comes to our mindset and striving for our full capacity.
Next, EHS is infamous for its “personalized learning” program. Briefly, it tries to provide each student with the best method of learning that works for them. In class, most summative assessments consist of tests and exams, or sometimes projects and labs. Every student has a method that works best for them, some focus well in the test-taking environment while others thrive during flexible projects. Being sufficient at each type is definitely a needed skill to have, but during high school, students still tend to lean towards a preferred side, and this isn’t and shouldn’t be considered a bad thing. If we aren’t the strongest test taker, we should be allowed the room to grow as one, without the pressure of a single-shot at the test weighing students down during an already difficult time. For those that don’t have special testing accommodations, this can take a toll on their health and ability to test effectively. The pressure is tough enough without the cut-off needing to weigh them down.
In the book The Gift of Failure: How the Best Parents Learn to Let Go So Their Children Can Succeed, authored by Jessica Lahey, Lahey says “What we should be talking about is that ‘summative’ or ‘cumulative’ assessments, when teachers teach a unit, then there’s a big comprehensive unit test at the end, is not effective teaching or assessment, and it does not promote true, deep learning. When summative or cumulative assessments are paired with a ‘no retake’ option, we are really failing kids and their learning.”
Summative tests and assessments aren’t accurate representations of our learning and do not engage students in it effectively. More so, when we’re relying on these same tests to take up 90% of our grade and demonstrate our knowledge, the system is failing students. It no longer depends on the quality of education or grasp on concepts, it depends on how good of a test-taker we are or if we got lucky and reviewed the exact concepts and questions that would show up on the test. The already weak system is becoming more weakened by this mindset of perfection fostered by the administration.
Learning is a process. Sometimes it takes countless attempts to get something right, but this is completely okay. Test scores should be an accurate reflection of our knowledge, if we truly have grown in our learning, then that percentage marked on our test should show this. The administration shouldn’t be allowed to depict themselves as one that fosters growth when in reality, the retake policy weighs so heavily on the opposite.
Some might argue that students would take advantage of the retake policy by not preparing for a test the first time so that they can retake it. However, many teachers have time limits on when you can complete a retake by; if students really do not know the material well and are slacking off on the first test, they won’t be able to instantly relearn the material so that they will be able to do better on the second. Not everyone is going to take advantage of the retake policy because doing well requires hard work. The retake policy is truly beneficial to those students who work hard and learn from their mistakes. Perhaps, if the policy was changed, then more students would be motivated to act this way.
EHS provides the opportunity of having a retake, which we should be grateful for, but the school should provide students with one that would be more beneficial to students. After all, it’s the learning that matters.
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