- Feb 2020
…address content, skills, and/or habits …follow a multi-step process …require application and transfer of knowledge and skill …require higher-order thinking …are personalized …are creative and open-ended …are assigned to corresponding common rubrics …result in original products or performances for the student
This can match our capstone process well. Again, the challenge is defining the assessment rubric. Is it common across the district? Is it specific to the course or department?
- Aug 2019
Doing this too often, however, steals valuable time away from the teacher that may reduce the quality of instruction for all the other students.
The teacher's mental and physical health is important, yes. But arguing that allowing retakes is a detriment to your own health, even though it is a benefit to the student, is a hard sell.
Case in point: my wife's family weathered two deaths in the same week. I left school on bereavement for one and had to extend my absence in the wake of the second death. We were in the middle of budgeting and my requests were not finalized.
My principal could certainly have disallowed an extension because I wasn't "proactive" and didn't have it done before the due date. Instead, I was given grace and I was able to submit a better report and request because of it.
Grace goes a long way.
However, every minute writing and grading retakes or grading long-overdue work is a minute that I’m not planning effective and creative instruction, grading current work so students receive timely feedback, or communicating with parents.
This may mean you're grading too much.
Assessment should be focused and pointed. Narrative feedback is helpful. Allowing retakes gives you an opportunity to focus only on what needs improvement. It is not a wholesale redo of the assignment. A retake should have the student focus on the specific gap in understanding which prevents them from achieving proficiency.
Under retake policies, parents at my school have expressed concerns about how overwhelmed their children become due to being caught in a vicious cycle of retakes.
This is not caused by a retake policy itself. It is caused by either A) not having a robust formative assessment strategy to catch struggling students or, B) not implementing reasonable checkpoints which help students learn to self-regulate.
Retakes and soft deadlines allow students to procrastinate
It is a major assumption that hard deadlines and tests prevent students from procrastinating. What disallowing retakes ends up doing is locking students into a cycle where they are actively discouraged from learning rather than taking the time to learn something.
They spend hours a day on video games and social media
- taking care of siblings
- taking care of other relatives
- trying to find something to eat
In math classes, where concepts constantly build on one another, traditional policies hold students to schedules that keep them learning with the class.
Assuming all students learn content at the same rate is dangerous. There may be fundamental math skills that take one student longer to learn than another. That may mean multiple attempts at demonstrating those skills.
If I were to disallow retakes, even the intrinsically motivated student who struggles with fundamentals loses out on mastering the concept. I lose out on knowing that student is struggling. Retakes allow me to more fully assess a student's progress toward mastery, incrementally working on correcting errors and gaps in understanding.
By promoting pacing over learning, we are doing our students a disservice.
One of his research studies showed that college students who were held to firm deadlines performed better, in general, than students who chose their own deadlines or turned in all work at the end of the semester.
This argument is errantly conflating two separate ideas: retakes and deadlines.
The act of allowing a retake does not preclude the use of deadlines. Setting deadlines for initial work is important because that way, I can check student work before the major assessment. There are also deadlines for completing retakes…the end of the semester being the hard stop.
I'm also building in structure for retakes. The fact that I allow a retake does not mean it happens when and where a student wants. They work within my defined schedule, which includes deadlines.
Arguing against retakes because deadlines disappear assumes that they are contingent upon one another when in reality, they work together to help students develop agency and time management skills.
This makes sense at a high level, but in reality, none of us - in school or out of school - lives in a deadline free world. I have deadlines to meet at work and if my product is not quality at the deadline, I have to do it again.
The difference is that we cannot fire students from school.
In my experience, however, the more lenient we are in these matters, the less students learn. The traditional policies—giving each assessment only once, penalizing late work, and giving zeros in some situations—help most students maximize their learning and improve their time management skills, preparing them for success in college and career.
This statement comes with zero qualification for "in my experience." Is there research or empirical evidence that supports this statement? Are there other interventions or policies that could be used in place of allowing retakes?
Setting up the entire post on the premise of "in my experience" makes it a hard sell to start.