Monday, March 17, 2014

Grades Gotta Go! (Part 3-A: RE-thinking RE-dos)

In my previous post in this series, I shared about how my real world job experiences did not match the popular mantra that the "real world" does not allow for "second chances" or "re-dos". To be fair, in this post, I have to explore more perspectives beyond my personal experience since, after all, this argument is the primary justification given from educators and parents who are against the practice of test re-takes. But first...

I think it is worth noting that when teachers are mandated (by school policy or state legislation) to allow for re-takes, many of them often want to still penalize students by making the re-take much more difficult or capping the score that can be earned. In their minds, students who learn something first should be rewarded for doing so. Essentially, the timing of the learning, they contend, should be a factor in the grading. 

My previous post already dealt with the fact that this position defies common sense. It is not as important when a student learns something as it is that they learn it. However, because of this faulty thinking that demands all learners to perform equally well at the same time, teachers will employ averaging or grade reductions for students who show mastery or growth later than their peers.

This middle school teacher does a great job of thoroughly addressing the problem of averaging in this blog post. I will let it suffice for my take on that issue.

Now, back to considering how the "real world" works. Do we need to prepare kids for a "one and done" world that sends people packing if they fail the first time?

Well, Rick Wormeli handles this issue very well in this video.

Coincidentally, I just heard this TED Talk from General Stanley McChrystal where he highlights the necessity of being able to fail and later improve even in military contexts. 

Here is an interesting commercial from one of the greatest professional athletes of all time.

It just so happens that someone close to me recently failed their driving test, but then this person went back and took it again. Now, this person has a license! It also happens that I work with administrators in my district who failed their certification exam the first time. Now, they are certified and doing very well in their positions. These are two more real-world examples of situations where people can re-take tests for full credit. Nowhere on the driver's license or professional certificate is it indicated that it required multiple attempts to show mastery.

It makes one wonder if some teachers are fighting hard to prepare students for a world that only exists in their imaginations. Oh, by the way, I know a number of teachers who did not pass their certification exams the first time either. But you know what? They eventually did pass them, now have teaching jobs, and get this, they make the same pay as their colleagues who passed their tests the first time! Hmm...what do you know about that?

Finally, here is a great summary of the reasons to encourage retakes/redos. 

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