“Did you finish studying for your math test?” I said, a little too sharply, to my 12-year-old son one morning.
“Sort of,” he sighed. “It doesn’t even matter. If I don’t do well I’ll just retake it.”
Middle and high schools across the country, including those in my children’s district, often allow students to retake exams. And it’s not just final exams or midterms; some educators permit retakes after every test.
While there is evidence from teachers and researchers outlining the pros and cons of test retakes, as a parent I wonder what the policy teaches children about responsibility, ownership and preparedness. When it comes time for college, employment, relationships or marriage, they won’t always get a “do-over,” so why are so many schools allowing them?
Proponents of retakes believe they allow students who struggle with test-taking another chance to master the material, and say retakes help with overall retention. Others point out that just because it takes some students longer to grasp a concept, it doesn’t mean they are less intelligent. Still others say retakes reduce stress and pressure on already anxious students. They believe such policies may allow kids to better comprehend material by repeating it.