The news site of Hinsdale Central High School

Devils' Advocate

The news site of Hinsdale Central High School

Devils' Advocate

The news site of Hinsdale Central High School

Devils' Advocate

Redoing Central’s Retake System

Courtesy of Wikimedia

“Why are you focusing so much on your grade? Worry more about learning the material!”

This is a statement myself, and many others have heard numerous times. After speaking to a teacher about a disappointing grade, instead of providing helpful feedback they respond by focusing on how much you’ve learned, and that grades ‘aren’t everything.’ Except that’s wrong. They do matter- good grades get you into top colleges, and  secure good jobs. Sometimes one small grade really is that important. If teachers want to emphasize the importance of learning, our school needs to implement a retake system where students are given second chances to fully learn the material for their classes.

Test retakes benefit all students. While some argue that they create more work for teachers and allow students to be lazy, I believe that the pros outweigh the cons. The goal of education is to develop knowledge and skills; while some students may be lethargic learners, many are putting forth effort yet not getting the grade they deserve. Retakes serve as an incentive for students to learn the material and be rewarded for their efforts. While some students may be unfocused in class all students deserve a second chance for better grades and learning.

A common argument against retakes is that they take up valuable class time. This is addressed in Education Week, when the author says “by pacing their instruction more flexibly, allowing more time for early units and less time in later ones, most teachers find they don’t have to sacrifice curriculum coverage to offer students the benefits of high-quality corrective instruction.” This approach allows teachers additional time to review tests and materials in class without falling behind schedule, refuting the counterargument and showing time isn’t an issue.  

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Critics maintain that if the ‘real world’ (aka college and workplaces) don’t have retakes, high schools shouldn’t either. However, many careers have opportunities for retakes, and chances for people to perfect their craft. If a doctor performed surgery after only observing it and never practicing again and again, they would never improve or develop their skills.

Additionally, retakes are something many schools already utilize. The 74, an education-focused website, discussed a “poll about whether our teachers allow makeup tests (78% said they did).”  However, I believe that this number should become 100%. Retakes directly improve students’ grades, and also indirectly boost their mental health because they raise students’ grades and eliminate the test anxiety many feel. They also deepen students’ knowledge of the material being covered in class. Why wouldn’t every class and school want that?

Not all classes at Hinsdale Central allow retakes. Currently two of my classes allow retakes, and in one class the maximum retake grade is 80% while another only allows one retake per semester. There should be retakes offered on several summatives for every student, at least 3 per semester. If I had not been able to retake a math test last semester, I would not have ended with an A in math. This school’s retake policy needs to change now, so every student has a chance to do well. A retake could completely change a grade, like one did for me.

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