Teaching students to do test corrections doesn’t have to be time consuming or result in a paper pile! Test corrections are actually one of my favorite tools for pushing students and measuring their progress.
Giving math tests can be equally rewarding and frustrating. As a teacher, you can see what skills your students really understood and what skills you thought your students understood.
I try to remind myself that the test is not the end goal. My students’ learning and preparedness for the next grade level is the end goal. So what do you do when you have students who bomb a unit test?
Test Corrections vs. Retaking the Test
Test corrections have to happen before students retake a test. I have fallen into the trap of allowing students retake a test only for them to do the exact same or worse.
If they didn’t master the material the first time, they will not master it the second time unless you provide additional tutoring and practice. I actually do not provide retake opportunities – I know my limitations and managing retakes is not for me. Instead, shortly after students have taken a test, I offer test corrections as an in-class assignment.
My school uses a website (Illuminate) that allows me to see what percent of students mastered each skill, and it allows me to see what percent of students answered each question correctly. I use this information to guide my teaching as I decide which questions I need to go over with the entire class.
If a majority of my students miss question 10, then maybe I need to go over it and make sure students practice that type of problem on future warm-ups. If a majority of my students miss most of the problems related to a specific skill, then perhaps I need to reteach that skill. (My benchmark is 80% of students will master a skill at around 80% – this post explains this in more detail.)
Model How to Correct Test Questions
Similar to how you would model solving a problem, model how you would like students to complete their test corrections. When you model how you would like students to correct their test questions, you will receive far superior results or work. When I go over the most missed problem with my whole class, I provide an anonymous incorrect student example for the class to discuss the error that was made.
I then model exactly how their corrections should look to avoid many students just circling another answer choice and writing down that the mistake they made was that they guessed. I utilize the handful of 100s as student teachers, so they can help their classmates.
Utilizing a skill Analysis
I shared about utilizing test analysis and reflection in this post. But, before we correct our tests, I have students complete a test analysis.
I categorize each test question into the skill that it covers, and students color in the test question box based on whether they got it correct or incorrect. It provides a visual for students and the teacher to see which skill they need to work on. Students save the skills in which they did the best for independent practice.
For the group work portion of class, they can utilize a partner or a student teacher for help on the skills that they missed a significant amount of problems.
Additionally, I think that it is important for students to set goals and analyze why they missed problems on a test. The test corrections printable has been updated to include a few reflection questions.
- Did they make calculation errors?
- Did they solve using the wrong operation?
- Are they studying?
- Are they paying attention in class?
- Are they asking questions when they don’t understand?
If you do allow retakes, then you are going to need to make additional tests. If you want that work done for you, try All Access. (All Access is a standards-based curriculum that includes everything you need to teach middle school math + editable unit tests + additional versions of tests perfect for retakes).
Reassessing the same skills
Like I said before, I don’t offer retake opportunities. I will give points back on their test for quality corrections and reflections. You might think that fosters an environment where students don’t really care about doing well on tests and won’t study.
However, in my experience, students who really need points for a better grade are not students who will try harder next time if they fail this time. They will be disappointed in their grade and their progress in math mastery will dissipate as they have not been successful.
I do, however, like to continue spiraling through material that we have learned in the past. I remind students that they will see similar test questions on future tests or quizzes.
This will help me make sure students are retaining what they have learned, and allows me to see if students who did not previously master a skill were able to after corrections and additional practice.
When I was in school, tests were all about grades and making my parents proud. Now as a teacher, I have a completely different outlook of what tests should and shouldn’t be.
How do students complete test corrections in your classroom?
Maneuvering the Middle has been publishing blog posts since 2014. This post was originally published in December 2016. It has been updated for relevance and clarity.