Grading policies in secondary classrooms that encourage and reward learning
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Grading policies in secondary classrooms that encourage and reward learning. Becky Piscitella Jade Zatek. Goals. Think about what works and what doesn’t work in your classroom Consider trying something new Consider participating in a research study. What my students say.

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Grading policies in secondary classrooms that encourage and reward learning

Grading policies in secondary classrooms that encourage and reward learning

Becky Piscitella

Jade Zatek

Goals reward learning

  • Think about what works and what doesn’t work in your classroom

  • Consider trying something new

  • Consider participating in a research study

What my students say
What my students say reward learning

“This is different than any other math class I have been in….”

“I feel like I have learned so much this year…..”

“I finally feel like I am getting it….”

“This is the first time I can remember learning math….”

Why change what you do
Why change what you do? reward learning


  • What are your main goals?

  • Are your students meeting them?


Research based 30 70 tests retests
Research Based reward learning30/70 TestsRetests

Lee Jenkins


Participation reward learning: 30 points each quarter. Everyone starts out with 30 points and it decreases if necessary. Points will be deducted for use of cellphones, listening devices, game devices, and/or displays of any behavior determined to be disruptive to the learning process during instruction or class activities.


Homework work days stop sending them home to struggle alone
Homework/ Work Days reward learningStop sending them home tostruggle alone

Parents love this


  • Practice problems with answers.

  • WorkDays for students with teacher help available.

  • Students may help each other as I rotate around the room and take questions.

  • Students must be working on practice problems or participation points are lost.

  • Students should continue to do as many as needed outside of class to comprehend the material thoroughly.

Exams reward learning

  • Approximately 40-70 points

  • With the exception of the first test, exams will contain 70% new material and 30% previously covered material.

No More Permission to Forget

Graded homework

  • A graded homework worksheet will be given a few days prior each exam.

  • It will contain a review of problems covered in that section.

  • It will be collected prior to the exam and will be graded for correctness.

  • I will not take questions on the graded homework problems, however, I will take similar questions from the practice problems.

  • I encourage students to check answers with others and discuss who has the better answer when there is a discrepancy.

Graded Homework


  • Every student has the option to retake each exam each exam. one time.

  • Additional practice problems are provided on my wiki space.

  • The retest must be taken during a study hall, not during class time.

  • The only exception is if a student does not have a scheduled study hall .

  • The retest option runs out at the end of each quarter as grades are due.

  • I never replace a score with a lower one…..MATH ANXIETY!


wikispace each exam.


  • Class notes

  • Practice problems

  • Tentative schedule

  • Worksheets

  • Video tutorials

  • Web links

Retests that resulted in a better score: 87% each exam.

the same score: 4%

a worse score: 9%

Why not retest
Why not retest? each exam.

Math anxiety and motivation
Math Anxiety and motivation each exam.

If your original score could be replaced by a lower retest score, how would this affect your anxiety during a retest?

Math anxiety and motivation1
Math Anxiety and motivation each exam.

Would you be less likely to take a retest if your score could be replaced by a lower one?

Math anxiety and motivation2
Math anxiety and motivation each exam.

Does the option of a retest motivate you to try to learn from your mistakes and prepare for a retest?

Statement of the problem
Statement of the problem each exam.

  • Anxiety and stress is shown to disrupt working memory and lower math test performance.

  • Reducing the fear of making mistakes and increasing math self-efficacy beliefs are both shown to reduce math anxiety and improve scores.

  • This evaluation study needs to be conducted because we need to find ways of reducing math anxiety and increasing math self-efficacy if we want to help more students learn math.

Purpose of the study
Purpose of the study each exam.

“The purpose of this evaluation study will be to discover the if the option of a retest for each math test reduces anxiety, increases math self-efficacy, and improves test performance for adolescents in high school.“

Evaluation study- A study determines the relative value of a product, procedure, or program

Theoretical base
Theoretical Base each exam.

Self-efficacy – Math Anxiety – Motivation

(An Applied Research Approach)

Self-efficacy, or one’s perceived ability to correctly complete a course of action (Bandura, 1986, 1997), is central to social cognitive theory. Self-efficacy beliefs influence how much effort and time is spent when confronting obstacles, thereby influencing motivation for pursuing or forgoing prolonged investment in a difficult task. Self-efficacy beliefs also influence resilience when faced with adversity and emotional reactions, affecting whether one views stressful situations as worse than reality, potentially contributing to math anxiety, or whether one approaches stressful situations with a calm demeanor.

Applied research- Applied research refers to scientific study and research that seeks to solve practical problems.

Research questions
Research Questions each exam.

  • How will offering the option of a retest reduce math anxiety for adolescents?

  • How will offering the option of a retest increase math self-efficacy for adolescents?

    • How many students will take advantage of the option?

    • How many will improve their test performance on a retest and by how much?

References each exam.

  • Bandura, A. (1986). Social foundations of thought and action: A social cognitive theory. Englewood Cliffs, NJ: Prentice-Hall.

  • Bandura, A. (1997). Self-efficacy: The exercise of control. New York, NY: W. H. Freeman.

  • Creswell, J. & Plano, V. (2004). Designing a qualitative study, step-by-step. Retrieved from:

  • Sparks, S. D., (2011). “Math anxiety” explored in studies. Education Week, 30(31), 1.