Am I Wrong?

Today’s post is a question I received yesterday from a customer over at my shop.

Hello Laura,
I recently gave my students the one-question-quizzer style of quiz (Note to reader – You can learn more about this method here:, and usually this method seems to work well. Unfortunately, during one of the quizzers, I had a student answer the question incorrectly though he claimed to have read the story.

He is a good student and he seems to have misread the question, but he was very frustrated with the grading method of the quiz because he felt if he had lied he would have received more points. To him, it felt like The Crucible (which we had read last quarter). I’m wondering what you would do if this situation occurred for you. I have informed him I will not change the grade because he answered incorrectly, and though part of the purpose of the quizzers is to show me they’ve read the stories, the other purpose is to show comprehension and correct answers.
– R.

Hey R.,
Thanks so much for checking in with me. Sorry the quizzers were a source of crunchiness between you and your student, but this does open an opportunity to have a great discussion with the kid.

While I can appreciate the need for us to apply classroom policies evenly, I also know that we’re all human and all need different things to be successful. Standing in your shoes, I’d meet with the student privately to discuss the matter, maybe have him stop by during lunch or pull him out of a class for a few minutes during your next prep period.

You mentioned that he’s generally a good student and that it is possible he misread the question. I’d chat with him about the chapter. Can he answer other questions about what happened? If so, I’d update the grade. Quizzers are worth only 3 pts. in my classroom, so it’s really not going to make a difference by the end of the term; plus, I’m getting pretty mellow in my aging years.

If, though, you feel like he’s being unreasonable or trying to put you in a corner, you could let him know the grade will stand, but you also promise to look at his end-of-term final grade in June and if those three little points are the difference between a step-up in a letter grade, you’ll make the adjustment then. I’ve offered this to a few students over the years and it goes a long way toward easing their fears. There’s a lot of pressure on some of our kids, and I understand why they (and usually their parents) are tightly wound about grades. In the end, though, those handful of points have never made a difference in a student’s final grade.

Above all, let your student know he and this situation are sitting on your heart. That’ll go a long way toward keeping him engaged in your class, no matter what you decide to do.

Hope this is helpful,

This question rolled around my head so much I decided to expand my answer into a YouTube video:

Okay, everyone, throw in your two cents. Would you give this kid a do-over? Am I being too soft? Let me know your thoughts below and keep on teachin’.

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Paige Billings
Paige Billings
2 years ago

After learning about these a few years ago from your blog, I have used them as daily checks, reading checks, and even exits. Some years I have done “raffle ticket” style if they answer it correctly. If the answer is correct, they get a ticket in the bucket and draw at the end of the week for a prize.

Sometimes I award partial credit. If they can’t answer the question correctly, but can prove they have read the chapter with another specific detail, I have awarded 2 points instead of 3. They can still get credit for proving they read. It still gives them a chance to prove they have read but gives them some motivation to read a bit closer.

Laura Randazzo
2 years ago
Reply to  Paige Billings

I love how you’ve gamified the process, Paige! And, yes, flexibility is important in my use of quizzer questions, too. If a kid adds more detail that shows me they know the material, I’ll bump their points. I’m not loud about it and I don’t broadcast it, but I do it pretty regularly.

Robert Burnham
Robert Burnham
2 years ago

Hello! What made you decide to change your quizzer point values from 5 points to 3 points?

Laura Randazzo
2 years ago
Reply to  Robert Burnham

Great eye for detail, Robert! Yes, I slimmed the point value down a few years ago to lessen the pressure on my kids and to reduce the cumulative impact the quizzers have on the overall gradebook. I use quizzers frequently during novel units, so if I give 10 quizzers in a month that used to add up to 50 points which tilted the gradebook, especially early in the semester when there aren’t yet a lot of points recorded. By making that group of 10 quizzers have just 30 pts. of total value, I still get the immediate feedback that I need to monitor kids without it being the equivalent of a larger assignment. If five points works for you, great! If three is your number, great! To me, it’s more about establishing the routine, having kids know I’m going to hold them accountable for out-of-class reading, and giving me snapshot data that I need to make sure everyone’s getting what they need. Thanks for the question! Hope you’re well. I know I haven’t been blogging as frequently as I used to and it’s nice to see your name pop up. Welcome back!

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