Test Corrections: Are They Helping or Hurting?

Cameron Cozzi and Natalie Wexler We’ve all received a bad grade on an assessment. Some of us because we didn’t properly prepare (or studied the wrong material), were so swamped with work from other classes that we didn’t remember that we even had a test that day, or maybe because the test was simply not what we expected We are human and we make mistakes, but shouldn’t we have an opportunity to fix them? Upon surveying the sophomore class, we discovered the students’ overwhelming support of being able to complete test corrections. In total, 67 of our classmates responded to our survey. And, 58% of them expressed their beliefs we should have the opportunity to do some sort of revisions on ALL major assessments. Sophomore Jack Tempone, a firm supporter of test corrections, explained why he likes this option. “Students don’t always perform well during tests. I believe that having a sit down meeting with your teacher and going over problems is a great solution.” Tempone shows his appreciation for the method that many teachers (especially math teachers) tend to use: having the students do in-person test corrections so that they have an opportunity to displayed knowledge of the material in person. Another sophomore, who prefers to remain anonymous, explained that they “really believe that pressure is a huge game-changer” in terms of how well one does on a test. “I know from personal experience that if I make any small, stupid mistakes, it’s going to be on a test. If you don’t have the opportunity to make corrections, it’s disheartening because though you’re ‘learning’ from your mistake, you’re not learning why you made that mistake.” Although the majority of the sophomores surveyed expressed that they support having corrections on ALL tests, about 33% of students said that they only think test corrections are necessary in certain situations. Many of these underclassmen agreed with certain strategies used by their teachers, such as only allowing students to complete test corrections if a student scored under 85% on the assessment. Sophomore Margo Williams, unlike Tempone, is one of the 33% that believes there should be stipulations that qualify students for test corrections. “Having a baseline average for when to allow test corrections helps teachers maintain fairness between classrooms. While I understand that one teacher’s tests may be more challenging than others, I don’t think it’s a bad thing to provide students with difficult tests. The purpose of a test is to show what you know and learn what you don’t, and corrections are an essential part of the latter.” Finally, the other 9% of sophomores replied to the survey stating that they were indifferent to the question of test corrections. And, out of the 67 students that responded, not a single one stated that they do not think that test corrections should be offered. After hearing the students’ opinions regarding test corrections, we were curious to find out how they contrasted with the opinions of the sophomore teachers. We decided to reach out to 1 or 2 teachers from each department in an attempt to obtain a wide variety of opinions, hoping that this strategy would present us with a new insight as to how different teachers view this topic. Only 3 out of the 9 teachers that we reached out to responded to our emails, however, which prompted us to think that this may be a more conflicting subject for the staff than we had initially anticipated. Ms. Amusin, a math teacher, kindly agreed to share her opinion with us and confirmed our theory that many teachers have mixed-opinions regarding test corrections. “One really important principle is the idea of mastery learning and going back to re-work your mistakes. I think that allowing test and quiz corrections allows a structural way for us to instill this concept. Also, I think that for the students being able to improve their grade is a big incentive to actually go back and look at what they did wrong. On the other hand, though, I wonder how much time each of us can devote to doing these things. At some point, you know, you have to move on.” Ms. Kelley, a Spanish teacher, expressed a similar view to Ms. Amusin; but she emphasized that when she allows assessment corrections in her class (which are mainly for essays) she wants the student to have a true interest in improving. “I offer corrections on essays if the student comes to see me and goes over a plan for submitting an improved essay. My reasoning is that I would like students to learn from their mistakes and should have the opportunity to receive feedback and work to better their writing skills.” In order to gain back points for doing test corrections, many teachers require that students not only fix the problem that they got wrong but also do a short writeup about why they got it wrong. Since many classes feature content that builds upon itself, it is essential that you understand each piece of information in order to be able to understand what comes next. And, once the snowball of confusion starts rolling, it can be hard to undo the damage. When students are allowed to go back and correct their mistakes (and even have a one-on-one conversation about it with their teacher), they are ultimately still learning, which will help them later in the course. Additionally, we are all human and it is inevitable that at some point we will be having a bad day on the day of an assessment and will therefore not perform our best. And when this happens, our grade on the assignment will not be reflective of our understanding of the unit but rather of how poorly our day was going. In this situation, we believe it is especially important to be allowed corrections in order to show that you know the material, but you just were not able to display this knowledge on the assessment as well as you know you could have.]]>