Frequently Asked Questions: Review of Student Exams

  • I’ve heard some teachers don’t let students bring home graded exams. Is this true?

    Almost all exams and other graded student work is returned to students to take home. There are some instances, typically in advanced courses such as Honors and AP, where students are not allowed to take a test home. In these cases, graded exams are reviewed with students in class and then collected. Exams given online (such as in e-learning and Canvas courses) usually do not allow the student to access the test again due to the course programming, and to prevent students from sharing exams across class periods. Most high school final exams are not allowed to leave the classroom, and students never see standardized tests like AP tests and the SAT or ACT after they complete them.

     

    Why don’t all teachers send all exams home with students once they are graded?

    There are three primary reasons that some teachers do not allow copies of exams to leave the room.

    1. If the course is an AP course, the College Board does not allow for release of exam materials because exam questions are the property of the College Board, and in some cases, teachers are instructed only to use such questions in face-to-face contact with students.

    2. Security is another reason to keep some exams from leaving the classroom. Some exam questions or question sets are used over multiple years. If a student removes the exam from the room, s/he could easily hand it off to a student the following year, encouraging cheating.

    3. An important part of teaching is reflection.  When teachers use a well-crafted set of exam questions over multiple years to address particular objectives, the teacher can reflect on how well different groups of students have learned each objective. Writing quality test questions takes both time and skill. If a different question is used to prevent cheating off prior year’s exams, the comparison loses validity.

     

    If my student can’t bring home a graded exam, how can I help her learn the material?

    Remember that in these situations, teachers review and discuss these exams in detail with students during class time. During the review process, the teacher is present and able to clarify and help students correct errors of understanding. Additionally, a teacher should be able to provide an explanation to students - and parents - of what skills or knowledge still needs to be learned, with suggestions for practice. We recognize that review of exams can be a learning tool for parents as well. Even exams that are not returned are typically available to parents to look at. Parents may wish to schedule a time to meet with the teacher in person or schedule a video conference so they are better able to support their students’ learning. Parents should always be able to ask, “How can I help my student at home to master this material?” so that the student has the opportunity to master learning, and not just focus on the answer to one specific test question. This practice aligns with our district’s strategic plan and intention to “focus on meaningful parent engagement through a variety of opportunities to support student success.”