A teacher from a nearby school district recently emailed me with a few questions about standards-based grading in preparation for the upcoming school. He gave me permission to share some of our dialogue in this public space. This is the second of two question and answer posts about homework as practice, rather than merely point accumulator, in standards-based grading. (The first one is here)
Q: I have heard of some teachers that will not allow retakes on assessments unless the homework has been completed. What are your thoughts?
A: Great question! I have seen this work in two different ways, each with pros and cons.
The first perspective goes something like “Students may not complete a reassessment unless they completed the homework prior to the initial assessment.”
Pros: May motivate students to do the homework prior to the first assessment; may help students do better on the initial assessment (because they did their homework). Cons: May motivate students to copy homework and play this part of the “game of school.” Only allowing students an opportunity to reassess if they completed homework seems to go against the idea students learn at different rates/paces. What if the reason the student didn’t complete the homework initially is because he/she had no idea about the concepts? Why require the student to do a slew of problems incorrectly?
The second perspective is the one I tend to favor, “Students may complete a reassessment only if they completed the homework sometime (doesn’t matter if it it was before or after initial assessment) and complete additional re-learning steps.”
Pros: Better honors that students learn at different rates/paces; may also be a better chance students are likely to ask better questions when completing the homework “Okay, I obviously didn’t get this idea as you saw on the test, Mr. H….could you help me understand it on the homework?” Re-assessment should be meaningful for students while not overburdening the instructor. Cons: It’s not a silver bullet! Students may still game the system by copying from a friend…but there’s less incentive to do so, because if they copy and do not learn, they will not likely do any better on the reassessment.
How do you integrate homework completion and the reassessment process within standards-based grading? Feel free to leave your experiences in the comments below.