Which test do you want to take? 86% 93% or 100%

So yesterday at church before we warmed up in the choir room one of the other members asked me if she could ask me a question as a teacher.  Her son is in high school and his teacher has given the class the option of taking a test where the max they can get is 86% a test worth a max of 93% and a test worth a max of 100%.  She wanted to know what I as a teacher thought of that.  Um my first thought WHY?  Why as a teacher would you do that to yourself, three different tests to grade?  Why would you do that to your students?  To me this means you’re allowing them to settle rather than strive for their best.  There are students who would decide it’s not worth it to try for the 100% because that’s obviously a harder test so they’ll just go for the 86 or the 93.    This also doesn’t seem to go with our district’s (yes this kiddo is in the same district I work in) move toward standards based grading.  If you’re allowing a student to take a test for 86% are they truly showing mastery on those standards?  I also worry that if it’s simply more and harder questions added to each level of the test, what if students miss 5 questions on the 86% test and would have missed only those 5 on the 100% test, then they now have a lower grade than they would have if they’d chose the 100% test.  I’m just not sure students are prepared to make the best decision when it comes to a choice like this, and I’m not sure they teacher is going to get the most accurate information from a testing situation like this.  My final thought on this, that I did share with my fellow choir member, is I don’t like it.  Maybe there is a rationale for this strategy but I’m not familiar with it and I think it would take some serious persuasion to convince me it’s a good idea.

What do you think?  Teachers have you used this technique, did it work, why did you use it?  Parents have your students encountered this, how did they handle it?  What would you do if your student was offered this choice?



  1. As a parent, this really bothers me. My child goes to a pretty small school district and we have not encountered anything like this. I would definitely have a problem if they offered her a chance to only be average. Shouldn’t our children be given to chance to succeed? Not merely be competent? I do not pressure my daughter to get straight As. However, I would hope she would welcome the chance to prove that she can score 100%, or the best that she can. I’ve been stewing over this since I first read the post. And I’m still angry that this is even something that is considered a good idea.

    • I know as a teacher and a parent it just annoys me that we’d allow children to settle for being less than their best. We all know kids, especially teens who would only take the 86% bc that’s “good enough” and not study to try and get the 100%. Sometimes kids are just super busy I get that but they need to learn time management, giving them this option does not get them there.

      Rest assured if your child chose a lower option there would be a line of us ready to kick her butt. 🙂

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