"Redos and Retakes Done Right"

by Rick Wormeli, Educational Leadership, Nov. 2011

One Speed for All?

  • Schools that acquiesce to the factory model of schooling perpetuate an ineffective, age-based curriculum
  • The goal is that ALL students learn the content, not just the ones who can learn on the uniform time line
  • Although we can't do it ALL the time, allowing students to redo both assignments and assessment for particularly important standards and outcomes MOST of the time is highly effective

Practice Practice Practice

  • Multiple opportunities to practice is what creates proficiency - reiterative learning
  • Expect different things from students during the learning process than when it's time to demonstrate final proficiency

Conveyer-Belt Learning

  • Problem: Teachers may feel they don't have luxury of revisiting skills and content to create proficiency for all students
  • When students learn on a "conveyer belt", we tell them "We don't have time to go back and teach it to you. Take the low grade and move on." This is no way to treat a child's future or conduct our profession.

Preparing Students for the Real Adult World

  • Adult professionals actually flourish through redos, retakes, and do-overs
  • High stakes assessments in the adult-level, working world can be redone over and over for full credit
  • We improve with practice, descriptive feedback, and revising our practices in light of that feedback, followed by more practice, feedback, and revision

Not Soft, but Tough

  • It makes sense to grade students according to their performance on standards, not the routes they take to achieve those standards.
  • Making students redo their learning until it meets high expectations demands far more of both students and teachers than letting them take a failing grade - but it also results in more learning

The Supreme Goal

  • The alternative to allowing a student to redo an assignment or assessment = allowing the student to settle for work done poorly, ensuring that he or she doesn't learn the content
  • Learning is the supreme goal - there are far more effective strategies for teaching responsibility than to simply label a student as immature and deny that student learning