7 Ways To Help Students Learn From Wrong Answers


For some students, nothing but 100% is good enough. While it’s true that students should get satisfaction for a job well done, it’s important to keep them motivated even when their scores are 1, 2 or 3 out of 4. For context, here’s a distribution of quiz scores across all Newsela students:


As a literacy-focused educator, the last thing you would want is for students to lose interest in reading due to lower scores. So how do you keep low-scoring students from losing faith? Our assessment editor and former educator Emily Taylor offers seven ways to help teachers empower students to learn from low scores:

  1. When talking with students about their quiz performance, frame your language positively and focus on growth and learning. Instead of simply asking “What did you get on your quiz?” try asking “What did you learn from this article?” or “Based on what was hard for you on this quiz, what reading goal will you work on next?”
  2. Should students get a question wrong, challenge them to provide a rationale for why the correct answer is correct. They can do this by highlighting a line in the article using our Annotations feature. They can also make a note in a reading notebook, or simply write their thoughts on a sticky note. Consider providing students extra credit or grade points for this work.
  3. Pair students up with a reading partner near their level. After they take quizzes, have them review wrong answers together and try to come to a consensus about why they answered incorrectly.
  4. If a student struggles between two possible answers on a quiz question, turn it into a whole-class teaching opportunity. Project the quiz question on the board and have students debate between the two choices. They can turn and talk to a partner or independently write about which choice is best, using text evidence to support their answers.
  5. Encourage students to set reading goals that are time-specific and based on personal growth. For example, a student who struggles with main idea questions might set a personal goal of increasing his or her performance on anchor 2 questions from 25% to 50% correct over a period of one month.
  6. During reading lessons, model making mistakes and correcting them with a neutral tone. For example, when reading a nonfiction article out loud, you can say “At first I thought the main idea was X, but then I reread that paragraph and now I think it’s more about X and Y.”
  7. If a student is truly convinced that he or she has gotten a question right though it is marked incorrect, have the student draft a persuasive note to the Newsela assessment team. Then send the note our way — we love hearing from students.

What other ways do you support students who struggle with quizzes? Tweet @newsela and let us know!