Inconsistent Retake Policies Puzzle MHS Students, Staff

Students like Taylor Sears, senior, have to study extra hard for retakes. Some teachers take the average grade of the original test and retake, some take the highest grade between the two and some just take the retake score. The ambiguity of retake policies encourages many students to try to perform their best.

Media by Annie Alcorn

Students like Taylor Sears, senior, have to study extra hard for retakes. Some teachers take the average grade of the original test and retake, some take the highest grade between the two and some just take the retake score. The ambiguity of retake policies encourages many students to try to perform their best.

Sneha Deo, freshman, has a lot on her plate: school, homework and extracurricular activities. But another factor that is causing her extra stress is the inconsistency of MHS’ retake policy.

“I think it’s hard to keep track of what classes I should study for more,” Deo said. “I study more if I know there are only two retakes per semester rather than classes with unlimited retakes.”

Principal Dr. Steve Hankins thinks that retake policies should be the same within departments.

“Teachers teach differently,” Dr. Hankins said. “They have different strengths and different personalities, so what we let teachers do is have similar gradebook policies and make sure they are all hitting the same core objectives.”

As long as teachers are hitting these shared standards, then having the same retake policy for departments makes sense, he said.

I think it’s hard to keep track of what classes I should study for more. I study more if I know there are only two retakes per semester rather than classes with unlimited retakes. ”

— Sneha Deo

Within the last 10 years, the Rockwood School District adopted a grading practice called Standards Based Grading (SBG). SBG requires teachers to not only give back a letter or point grade to students, but also meaningful feedback and suggestions for improvement in the future.

With the adoption of SBG, the Board of Education also passed policy 6450. It states that students are allowed to retake after relearning material, but doesn’t specify whether every assessment can be retaken or if the amount of retakes is left up to the teacher.

Darcy Hachmeister, math teacher, said when policy 6450 first started, it was a nightmare.

“There was no accountability for students. The policy just meant they could retake anything and everything without doing any of the work,” Hachmeister said. “It became that all the kids took the initial test as the practice test and then retook it.”

To prevent this from happening, some teachers in the math department began to enforce retake rules.

“After we sent out our syllabuses, the district came back and said you have to adhere exactly to the policy, but it’s not clear,” Hachmeister said.

We give retests and we’re okay with that. We’re just not sure how to write it up in the syllabus and line it up with the policy.”

— Holly Lehmann

Holly Lehmann, math teacher, said it is bothersome that teachers are being asked to pay attention to some policies and ignore others, which creates inconsistency.

Lehmann also points out that classes in the math department are at different levels with different expectations.

“One thing might work for Algebra 2 but it doesn’t for AP Calculus, so it’s hard to have a consistent approach within the math department because each level is different,” she said.

Lehmann said the math department is struggling to come up with a plan for the retake policies.

“We give retests and we’re okay with that,” she said. “We’re just not sure how to write it up in the syllabus and line it up with the policy.”