I agree with the SBG community that students deserve an opportunity to work on material until they achieve mastery. I also agree that when students don’t turn in work, a “zero” isn’t helpful. Work not turned in is a behavioral issue that must be addressed in some way. The student should be required/ offered the opportunity to complete the work.
I agree that late work or missing work usually is a consequence of some issue that is non academic in nature. That’s why I believe students should be given a chance to complete their work once the issue causing the problem is resolved.
I also believe that giving students a chance to redo work that is not at a mastery level is a good idea. Frank Noschese wrote a great post about grading and extra credit (Click Here). I only disagree on a minor point. In one graphic a student (A) has a progression of grades over some standard that follows this pattern: 40, 55, 50, 80, 80, 90, 95. Clearly this student has gained mastery over the material and deserves an “A.” I have no disagreement with that. For the sake of argument, what if we have another student (B) whose grades follow a slightly different pattern: 70, 93. Do we recognize any distinction between the two students?
I say yes. I got into a vigorous discussion with a couple of fine folks because I am willing to make a distinction. This post is my chance to explain myself. I believe that both students have demonstrated mastery and deserve an “A” on their report card. But is one “A” better than the other? Well – I say sometimes.
Here is my issue; and my bias. I lead some students toward mastery; others are dragged there almost against their will. I say getting something done right the first time (or sooner as opposed to later) deserved some recognition. I believe that recognition is in their grades. In my school and in Texas class rank and GPA is a big deal. Scholarship money and college admissions are at stake. So do my grades reflect behavior? At this level, yes they do, and I’m ok with that.
I am ok with recognizing mastery whenever it finally happens with a well deserved “A”. I am also ok “capping” reassessment at a 90.
As you read this I ask you to keep something in mind; I don’t live in an ideal world. I wish grades didn’t matter SO much. I wish all “A”s were really the same, but they are not. I know “capping” a grade is not a purist SBG philosophy. I wish my high school didn't require class ranking and we just had Magna and Summa Cum Laude - but we don't. Please don’t accuse me of being unenlightened. Give me credit for allowing students to achieve a grade that recognizes mastery while working within the confines of a flawed system I did not design.
For what it’s worth - I have never had a single student tell me my grading policy was unfair – ever. That doesn’t mean my policy is perfect. I interpret it to mean my students recognize and appreciate the opportunities I offer them. My policy reflects my bias. Your policy reflects yours. As long as our grades are meaningful I think it's ok if we disagree.