May 20, 2011

Do your students ask to retake tests?

One of my favorite things about a Results Only Learning Environment is how it fans the intrinsic motivation that is inside of all students. Educators often smother intrinsic motivation by punishing students with grades and rules -- things that only make young people hate learning.

When students are given autonomy, they soon want mastery (this is human nature, after all). When we choose to do things because we're interested in them, it's only a matter of time before we want to be good at them.

Under the right conditions, students want to improve

One of my favorite examples is when my students ask me to retake tests. Recently we took a year-end reading diagnostic, which measures students' Lexile measures against a similar test they take at the beginning of the year. We read all year, so the students want to improve. I talk up the Lexile as a solid barometer of reading ability; plus, it helps students find books that they'll understand and enjoy.

When we take the final reading test, many students ask if they can take it over, if their Lexile measure decreases. I recently had a student send me a message on our classroom web site, asking to retake the test. She told me she just had a bad day. "I know I'm a better reader than that," she said of her low score. Of course, she could retake it, I responded. That's how we operate in a ROLE.

When my tests were only about final evaluation and scores for a report card, students almost never asked to take the test over again.