I took a big step in my math class this weekend and started moving toward master learning. We had a geometry test on Friday and had mixed results: a few A’s and B’s, many C’s, and a few D’s and E’s. I am a bit of a perfectionist and I woke up early Saturday, not able to sleep from the students that failed. So I e-mailed the parents and started a new policy: re-takes for tests.
The rationale behind this is simple for me. I believe in mastery learning. My job is to teach the 6th grade mathematics standards. I really don’t care when students learn them. Some of my students “get” it the first day and some of them may not “get” it until after the first test. Why should I punish them because it takes them longer. For a more formal and detailed argument for this approach check out the blogs of Matt Townsley and Becky Goerend who have influenced me a lot on this topic.
So my new policy looks like this (although I still consider it a work in progress): homework will be graded based upon completion, but I am not going to tell students this. I think that will encourage them to give their best effort but not punish them for “mistakes” while learning. Any student who does not do well on a test based upon their self-assessment can re-take a different version of the test after completing further review work and tutoring with me.
This creates more effort for me-new assignments and test have to be created and I will have to find time to re-teach students outside of class, but that is my job and I will make the extra effort to help my students learn.
Will the students make the extra effort to schedule time with me and do extra work? We will see.