To Give or Not Give Back the Math Test?


A common practice these days is not to return students’ math tests nor allow students to take the tests home. This prevents students from studying areas in which they are weak and does not allow the tutor or parent to help the student to correct and understand their errors.

Perhaps this comes from teacher laziness because by not letting students take their tests and sometimes quizzes home they can recycle the tests year after year. However, I think students have a lot to loose by not being allowed to review their tests and make test corrections.

In teaching Algebra for special education students, I go over the homework and give my students the correct answers so they can check their work and ask questions on how to solve problems that they missed. This is another practice that many math teachers do not do. There is no point in assigning math homework for the sake of assigning it if students are not able to learn from this practice.

In regards to tests, I give small quizzes almost daily on every section we cover and grade them. I allow students to make quiz corrections, but in order to earn points that can help their original quiz score they must explain the cause of their mistake. This is an essential component that students can analyze their work and understand their errors to prevent them from continuing to make the same errors. This can also help students learn to slow down, show their work and see if their errors come from carelessness or lack of understanding how to solve the problem.

These practices are nothing new; but as a teacher and tutor, I see the frustration of parents who want to help their children, but can’t because never see their child/teen’s test. Hopefully, more teachers can see extreme benefits of learning from our mistakes and begin changing these harmful practices. I know teachers are under a lot of stress and pressure, but in the best interest of our students, allowing them to see their weaknesses and learn to analyze their errors can not only help them in math, but in life.