Four-point quizzes: A New Way of Learning


Students record their grades in a table to track their progress.

For many students, the thought of a math test conjures up feelings of dread. Some students feel overwhelmed by unit tests and quizzes, which often have a considerable impact on their overall grade. However, in some of the honors and on grade level math classes at Wilde Lake, larger tests are being replaced by quizzes worth only four points, which can be retaken at any time within the quarter.  

Math teacher, Mr. Calkins, says he originally got the idea from Dan Meyer. Meyer is a Californian Math teacher who writes on his blog, “dy/dan”, about progressive methods of teaching. “It’s a system called Standards-Based Grading,” Calkins explains. 

This is the first year he suggested the concept to geometry and pre-calculus teachers at Wilde Lake, and they were excited by the idea. “In a normal math class, you would have a chapter five test, or something like that. If you do good or bad, it has a huge effect on your grade,” Mr. Calkins says. “Instead of having a huge test, you break down the individual bits of skills that you need.”

Ms. Tarr, another Wilde Lake math teacher, is introducing the four-point quizzes into her curriculum. “The first time they take [the quiz], it might not be as good,” she explains. “But, by the time people take it two or three times, everybody is moving up and getting better. Everybody is inching forward.” 

Students’ opinions on the quizzes are overwhelmingly positive. Wilde Lake senior Seth Greenberg believes that the smaller quizzes are much more effective than quarterly tests. With bigger tests, “The content will just be forgotten after the test, if not before it,” he says. 

Nate Mancuso, a pre-calculus student, also finds the smaller quizzes extremely helpful.“I think it tests our actual knowledge, not what we studied the night before,” he states. “They’re definitely more relevant to the topics we learn.” 

Ms. Tarr says the quizzes are a great opportunity for skill mastery, if students take the opportunity to study and improve. “I was actually shocked when I went and put first-quarter grades in,” she says. “I’m not sure I’ve had a first-quarter that strong before.”