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Student Reassessment Policies: Yes, Let’s Talk about That “Real World”...
By Maria Savva & Sarah Washburne 18-Mar-14
“In real life there are no second chances...” Or are there? In discussing reassessment policies for students, this is probably the most prominent argument against reassessment among the more skeptical educators. According to this argument, real life does not come with hand-holding and reassuring strokes of encouragement. No, real life is tough. Skeptical educators often argue that students need to build resilience, and begin to deal with life’s blows early on. According to this perspective, reassessment is a disservice to students because it gives them a false sense of accomplishment that does not prepare them for the circumstances of real life. In giving some thought to this assertion, however, a multiplicity of circumstances where adults are given second, third, and fourth chances quickly come to mind. Driver exams, teacher licensing exams, medical board exams, and bar exams are just some examples of exams that can be taken multiple times. College Board and IB exams can also be taken more than once. Second chances, however, extend much deeper than just formal examinations. As human beings we are prone to errors on a daily basis. How many times have we blundered at work? How many times have we made mistakes with our loved ones? If we answer these questions honestly, we are able to get to the heart of real life. Real life is all about getting (and giving) chances. The American International School in Cyprus (AISC) is interested in providing such real life opportunities to its students. AISC implemented a reassessment policy during the 2012-2013 school year with this specific aim in mind. The idea behind the reassessment policy was to encourage students to play an active role in their intellectual growth, and to uphold the school’s principle of life-long learning. The policy was designed not just for struggling students but for any student wishing to improve a grade. In order to reassess, students must show a willingness to improve by demonstrating adequate preparation, personal responsibility, and reflection. Students must complete a reassessment request form, signed by their parents, as a prerequisite for reassessment. Prior to reassessment, teachers have the option of requiring students to attend tutorials or make corrections in order to ensure an increased understanding of material. Our mathematics department often requires practice time on Khan Academy, on units that are determined by teachers to target growth in skills. All this preparation sets the students up for improvement, and empowers them to take responsibility for their continued academic success. Not surprisingly, the reassessment policy at AISC has been met with enthusiasm by students; it is an obvious opportunity for them to improve their grades. Aside from this though, students who reassess are demonstrating their commitment to their teachers and parents. What is more, when students are given the opportunity to improve upon and practice new skills, this leads to enduring understanding. Refining skills is a vital aspect of a student’s education, whether it is solving a mathematical equation, analyzing primary sources, or improving writing proficiency. Reassessment opportunities are especially useful when it comes to encouraging students to practice for their IB exams. As an IB Diploma school, AISC has students from a wide range of backgrounds, with a variety of abilities and differing levels of English proficiency. For many, the IB Diploma Program is very daunting and challenging. When these students are able to retake IB assessments, it enables them to better understand what is expected from them in the future. We encourage students to refine their skills and augment their knowledge by taking advantage of “second chances.” In summary, reassessment offers the maximum opportunity for success. Such opportunities create positive and supportive environments for students, enabling them to reach their potential. Even more importantly, when compared to traditional, “sink or swim” testing, reassessment is much more representative of the world outside the classroom. Thankfully for all of us, real life is actually full of second chances. To download a copy of the AISC Reassessment Policy go to http://www.aisc.ac.cy. Our policy can be found in the Grading Policies section of the Family Handbook.
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