I did something a little drastic, a little punitive and a little scary. I did not want the end of the trimester rush of procrastinating 8th graders, scrambling to reassess on concepts they hadn't "passed." At the beginning of the year, I instituted a "no-fail" policy that every student needs to get a score of 7/10 or above (sum of last two assessment scores on a 5-point scale) in order to pass my class. First trimester, many students came during the last few weeks to avoid getting incompletes and I had to give several incompletes anyway and I still have one incomplete outstanding. Also, some students needed these skills for subsequent skills and were continuing to fall behind and were feeling lost in class.
So, this trimester I used our "mandatory study hall" to make sure they took care of it and told them that they wouldn't be passing math if they didn't take care of it by Jan 12. In our middle school, students are assigned to mandatory study hall if they have 2 Ds or an F our 3 week progress report checkpoints. Now, I am only concerned about concepts that have dropped off the in-class quizzes. Setting a time-limit and holding a punishment over their head goes against what I truly believe but it really worked! Of course, the reason it worked is because I have failed to truly motivate them, this is sad but true but hey, it did work! In the past few days, I have seen my students working hard, asking good questions, being resourceful and coming in and reassessing.
I am also very happy that my students did so well on their midterms. I just reread a post from last May where I was so discouraged by their lousy scores. I make them reassess on anything they get a 2 or below on that is no longer tested in class. In my one Geometry class (20 students) there will be 4 reassessments. Much better retention than last year.