So the 2nd quarter just ended, and I kept hearing the all too familiar, “Do you have any extra credit?” What?! Students are asking you, too. I never give extra credit. Here’s why and what I do instead…
What is extra credit?
To the student (or parent) making the request, extra credit usually means doing some boring and repetitive task to turn their bad grade into a good grade. Truly, this is just a form of penance to punish the behavior that caused the bad grades. But how will doing something like a vocabulary word search fill in the learning gaps that are the real cause of the low grade?
I use this analogy. Imagine a top salesperson blows it with a big account at work. Would asking the boss for some chores to do lesson the financial loss the employee’s actions caused? Of course not! Say boss, can I organize the files for extra credit? If the salesperson isn’t canned, the boss will want the salesperson to have learned from his or her mistake.
When you think about it, extra credit is an oxymoron. When do you ask for an extra helping of potatoes at dinner? After the first helping, right? So wouldn’t a more accurate description of extra credit be some form of curricular extension that goes above and beyond the written curriculum? And would it only be provided after a student had mastered this state-mandated written curriculum?
A better way — Do-Overs!
Instead of extra credit, I let students have do-overs on tests. After all, a good test should fairly measure a student’s level of mastery as measured against the standards. Other than the end of the term, there is no time restriction on my obtaining evidence of learning. For example, will it matter if my algebra student demonstrates mastery of simplifying radicals at the beginning of December or mid-December or the beginning of January so long as the content is mastered? I say no.There is no deadline on learning. Click To Tweet
For that reason, I encourage do-overs. According to Stanford research, early test scores do not accurately reflect a student’s long-term outcome. Many teachers are adopting this practice of do-overs, because they realize there truly is no deadline on learning.
The only catch in my classes? The student must come see me during tutorial period to go over the mistakes he or she made. Otherwise, the same mistakes are likely to be made the next time. Rick Wormeli talks about this in the writings of his experiences.
Check back in after giving do-overs a try.