Wednesday, April 9, 2014

PD with Rick Wormeli: Assessment and Grading

Okay... so maybe the title is misleading. :-) Weren't you hoping to read about a visit from Rick to Hoover High School?

Rick Wormeli didn't really come to our school to lead professional learning with our staff, but we did watch his videos and discuss his ideas. 

We are looking at moving towards Standards-Based Learning/Grading in our district, and several teachers have explored the concepts that Rick shares in his videos. Here's a PD idea to use at your school if you want to really stretch your thinking and practices. 

First meeting:

When teachers entered the meeting room, I had teachers draw a slip of paper from a cup at the sign-in desk. On each slip of paper was a question, and when everyone was present for the session, each person with a question would read it out loud and share their answer with the group. 

Here are the questions that were on the slips of paper:

  • Why is it important to foster hope in students?
  • What do you think about the phrase “Failure is not an option”?
  • What are some problems with a teacher's argument that a student cannot retake his/her assignment/quiz/project?
  • How does allowing redos until students demonstrate mastery prepare students for the real world outside of school?
  • If a student doesn’t do the assignment, then the punishment should be to do the assignment.

Then we watched Rick Wormeli's video, "Rick Wormeli: Redos, Retakes, and Do-Overs, Part One." (Watch below or click HERE)


After the video, the teachers discussed his points and their thoughts about them. I asked the teachers to reflect on their own practices as they went through the week and to be conscious of their re-take/do-over procedures.

Second Meeting:

First, we watched Part Two of Rick's video. ("Rick Wormeli: Redos, Retakes, and Do-Overs, Part Two." Click HERE or watch below.)

After the video, we discussed their "take-aways" from the video and overall questions and reflections.

After the second meeting, one of our teachers created a survey for her students about redos and retakes. Click HERE to read their responses.

Third Meeting:

The third meeting was a "round-table discussion." The first question we discussed was this....

Is the purpose of education to make sure kids learn 
or is it
that they learn in a specific way at a specific time? 

* * * * * * * * * *

Next I shared 3 documents with them (hard copies) along with a highlighter. I asked them to highlight any and all statements that they agreed with or wanted to try in their classroom. 

Where did I get these documents? 

The first one came from Reed Gillespie's blog, Mr. Gillespie's Office. Reed is an assistant principal in Virginia and one of the co-moderators for #vachat, a weekly twitter chat. I always learn from Reed, and his ideas about a redo/retake policy were spot on. 

Here's the blog post where I got the list to share with our teachers: "12 Steps to Creating a Successful Redo and Retake Policy."

The second document I shared with the teachers was Page 1 of Smith Middle School's Redo/Retake Policy for 2013-2014

Our teachers noticed immediately the difference in tone between Smith Middle School's list and Reed's list. Can you notice it, too?

The third document was an excerpt taken from a blog post written by Brian Stack, principal at Sanborn High School. 

He says in the Connected Principals' blog archive:

Here is the one that my school adopted three years ago:

Second-chance assessment opportunities shall be made available to students who have missed a summative assessment, to students who have failed a summative assessment, and to students who have earned below an 80% on a summative assessment.  For students who missed a summative assessment for a legitimate reason (an excused absence or emergency), the highest possible score that may be earned on a reassessment is 100%.  Students who must reassess because they missed an initial summative assessment for an unexcused reason, who must reassess because they failed an initial assessment, or who wish to reassess because they have earned below an 80%, may earn up to an 80% on the reassessment.

Important Notes:

1.       If a student who fails with less than a 65% reassesses and earns a higher grade, the higher grade replaces the previously recorded lower grade (up to an 80);
2.       Since a teacher should only require students to reassess on non-proficient skills or tasks, the reassessment grade should never result in a lower final grade on the assignment;
3.       A teacher may require (as detailed above in Formative Assessments) a student to complete all formative assessments that are directly correlated with the summative assessment before a reassessment for the summative is administered (if this step has not previously been taken);
4.       A teacher may require students to complete a relearning plan (detailing the steps that a student will need to undertake to demonstrate proficiency on the summative) before a reassessment is administered;
5.       A teacher may assign a reasonable timeline for a reassessment opportunity;
6.       Reassessment opportunities for formative assessments are at the teacher’s discretion.

Our school-wide reassessment procedure is not an ideal competency-based reassessment statement. We consider it to be a hybrid procedure that has helped our teachers and students over the last three years make the transition from a traditional to a competency-based grading philosophy. One of our biggest limitations is that we don’t allow students to earn more than 80% on a reassessment. If we are to truly measure student learning, we can’t engage in practices that limit student grades. We certainly understand this in my school and we are moving to a model that will allow the reassessment grade to have no cap. Many of our teachers and students philosophically are ready to make this final leap. Some already have.

* * * * * * * * * *

After the teachers spent a few minutes quietly reading to themselves and highlighting their documents, I asked them to share their thoughts and responses to their highlighted statements. The teachers really liked having the concrete examples in the documents as well as an opportunity to discuss their ideas with each other. 

After the third meeting, one of our English teachers shared with me a conversation she had with her students about re-doing their work in order to get a better grade. Watch the video below to hear what her students had to say. (You can also click HERE to see the video.)


While considering a redo or retake policy is not on the horizon for Hoover High School, each teacher has the autonomy to implement one in his or her classroom. Many teachers who attended the sessions already have some sort of retake policy in place, and I'm looking forward to seeing what they put into practice in the fall!

Does your school have a Redo/Retake policy? If yes, would you mind sharing?

What reservations do you have about implementing a policy like this?

Which statements from the three documents did you agree with and want to try in your classroom?

P.S. I will be working with Rick in June. Want me to tell him hello from you?

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