On Monday, the day after vacation, I facilitated a 20-25 minute class discussion about the test. At first, I just told them the class average and how many students in this room (2 or 4 or 5) who had earned an "A" range grade. Then I set them loose: What should Mr. Swan do about it? There was a variety of answers, ranging from "Erase that test from the gradebook" to "We should do a project instead." A retake of some kind was the most popular option, but usually not for the sake of the students' term grade. I was delighted to hear many 8th-graders talk about improving their understanding. "We will probably need to know this stuff for later," one remarked. "History keeps building on itself, so if we don't understand this material then the next unit will probably be harder," said another. I know you think I'm making this up....
Tuesday and Wednesday we did some review activities that I couldn't do earlier because of the snow days. One fairly successful item was the example of the Clean Water Act, which traveled through all steps of the lawmaking process and checks-and-balances system. You can click the sequence diagram for my GoogleDoc.
[UPDATED March 2nd]
No major surprises from the retake. A few students actually performed worse on the retake, but most held steady or increased on their second attempt. Again: I gave exactly the same questions as on the original test 15 days earlier.
The graph on the left shows the stats for the modified version of the test. Their average stayed almost the same; there was very little improvement for these students. I suspect this illustrates their long-term memory deficits. The right-side graph is for the typical test, and there I can see an 11-point increase in the average. One student went from a 60% to a 91%!!