Grade Recovery in Middle School

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Do you allow opportunities for grade recovery in your middle school classroom? I do.

Allowing opportunities for grade recovery is one of the best things that I do for my students.  I used to be a stickler for deadlines and not accepting late work? But then, I had a principal who asked me, “As a teacher, what is your overall objective?” I had to answer, “I want students “to learn how to do math and to hopefully learn how to be better human beings along the way.

We had a nice discussion that day about the pros and cons of allowing students the opportunity for grade recovery. I have summarized the highlights of that discussion and subsequent discussions I have had on the topic below.

My principal was persuasive and I started allowing students to do late work. I must admit it was one of the best decisions I ever made as a middle school teacher.

Before you “come at me” in the comments about not teaching students the value of turning work in on time, I realize that is an important life skill. However, my students are 12 and 13 years old. For all the years that I didn’t accept late work or allow grade recovery, I didn’t find that policy to change students habits or improve their performance in any way.

So, I have made the conscious decision to show some grace and mercy to my students by giving them opportunities for grade recovery.  And subsequently have found that it has paid off in dividends to their actual learning and in the culture of my classroom.

Pros of Grade Recovery

Grade recovery improves my relationships with students. Those relationships are important for classroom management. With better classroom management I can cover more material in a class period.

By having improved relationships with students, they are more likely to ask questions in class or to come to me outside of class for clarification.

For more on the power of building relationships with students click here or on the image below.

Allowing opportunities for grade recovery has improved my relationships with parents. Some of them are working multiple jobs and handling stressful domestic situations. Maybe they don’t have electricity or wi-fi this month and they can’t check their child’s grade let alone help them access their online assignments. By the time they realize their student is failing math, they need some support and options for assistance.

Allowing grade recovery has made parent conferences much less stressful. Once I list all of the things that I do to allow students to recover their grade, parents are never angry or upset with me…only their student, who doesn’t have any excuse for failing math.

Grade recovery has increased the number of students who understand the concepts I am trying to get across to them. Their brains are still developing and sometimes they have to hear something repeatedly for it to stick in their minds. Maybe they didn’t understand it last week but after listening to me go over it repeatedly in class now they know how to do that assignment from last week.

Allowing grade recovery has increased the number of assignments that have been completed. Middle school students have trouble budgeting their time.  This is a skill they haven’t quite mastered but we talk about it and they are learning.

Many of my students have sports or extracurricular activities after school. Some of them have the responsibility of taking care of younger siblings and household chores. They honestly need the extra time and appreciate it. A few of them need the extra time to seek out someone to help them with the work because they didn’t understand it the first time they heard it in class.

How Grade Recovery Works

Here are a few things I do to implement grade recovery in my middle school math class.

I allow students to turn work in late and I don’t even take off any points when they do. Some might argue that’s not fair to the students who turned it in on time. Honestly, I have found “A”  students don’t really care about anyone’s grade but their own. It gives my little overachievers the opportunity to do over that 96% to get a 100% so they are happy.

I allow students to redo any assignment that they want a better score on. They can do it over as many times as they like until they get the score they want.

I give retakes on quizzes. And I allow them to take the quiz home and to get help from anyone they like. It isn’t the exact same quiz. I just have to make another version of the test which really doesn’t take very long. They can do it over more than once.

I open my room at lunch and let students come in to get help with assignments from me or from their peers. This is part of that relationship building opportunity. Students know they can ask me questions and get help with assignments. While I am helping them in a smaller group setting we laugh and talk about life. I have that opportunity to learn more about them as a person. 

Periodically, I will have a grade recovery day in class. Students who don’t have missing assignments can do something fun like play a math game or a card game of their choice or they can help their peers with their missing or incomplete assignments. Many of them choose to help their peers. We discuss the difference between “cheating” or “copying” and actually helping someone. Many times they explain it better than I do.

Cons of Grade Recovery

The only real con for the teacher is that grade recovery takes extra time. However, I have found the gains to my students’ learning to be well worth it. It takes some time to go back and regrade the assignments so you’ll need a system.  I don’t let papers pile up and  I grade a little bit every day.

I do give a deadline at the end of the grading period that allows me plenty of time to get everything graded. And usually, I am one of the first people at my school to turn in my grades. 

You will still have students who do nothing. You can lead a horse to water but you can’t make him drink.

Procrastinators will still procrastinate.  Once I know who my regular procrastinators are I have found that a quick phone call or email to the parent usually takes care of that. 

I hope you found this post helpful. Drop a comment below and let me know your thoughts on grade recovery. 

As always, thank you for being a teacher. 🌺

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