So as the quarter ends I am having the same thought as always -- is it skills or responsibility or a little bit of both. What is a grade? What I mean is every quarter I am descended upon for help to raise grades at the 11th hour. So my policy is to have grades represent skills & conceptual understanding, not time and not work ethic. For that reason I have paths for students to do work and have retakes, but after grading my 100th retake in a few days (for only 95 students) I am left wondering if this path is doable for me and/or best for my students.
It works though, Juda's math abilities are increasing -- whether checked by my assessments, the state assessments or the ACT exam. And I don't worry about the struggler who works hard and just needs more time. But I worry about the procrastinator and what I may be reinforcing.
So my new big move this year was only 1 retake a day rule (that works pretty well). Last year without it I had students lining up for 2 or 3 quizzes, which is just a panic drill. I also enter whatever grade they get (not the best) so the grade represents current understanding. Yet when I talk with professors in the UW system I wonder if I am doing my students harm, if I making them think this is how it works after HS (I do preach that HS and college are different - but why believe me...)
So here I sit; quarter ended, grading globs of re-tests and re-quizzes -- but I see growth. It just takes some external pressure (the end of quarter) -- so until I figure something better (or copy somebody's "better") I will continue with this. Because it is better than students just giving up, or deciding not to learn. It really allows me to hold high standards....