Tuesday, January 30, 2018

Redos, Retakes, and Habits of Work at Belmont High School

At Belmont High School, we believe in the value of a strong work ethic and the importance of learning from failure. 

In order to encourage this mindset, our teachers have been working to refine and/or develop redo/retake policies within their classrooms.  A redo/retake policy provides a pathway for re-teaching and re-learning when students fail to demonstrate proficiency on a given assessment. Implementing a redo/retake policy is something new for many teachers and can pose several operational challenges.  These challenges can range from creating new assessments to managing the time given to students to resubmit work. However, when designed correctly and implemented with fidelity, a sound redo/retake policy helps struggling students to prepare a plan of action that promotes deeper learning and leads to success.  Additionally, a solid redo/retake policy helps teachers manage the time and the workload associated with new and improved practices and can help to provide students with timely feedback.

The principle of offering "redos" is often misunderstood and frequently misapplied in schools and classrooms.   Poorly designed redo policies often remove deadlines for turning in work and fail to hold students accountable for their actions. Students should never be allowed to simply "redo" all assignments nor should redos ever be offered without clear learning goals or with the intention of simply “boosting a grade.” 

Keeping deadlines and maintaining student accountability are essential components of a successful redo policy, which, when implemented correctly,  serves to improve student learning, promotes a resilient work ethic, and ensures mastery.  Ultimately, for a redo policy to be effective, there must be some sort of corrective action on the part of the student (for example, test corrections, help sessions, required reading, etc...) accompanied by quality feedback from the teacher.  When students are given descriptive feedback on their failures, time to reflect in meaningful ways, and the opportunity to make corrections, learning improves. Period.

In addition to improving our approach to redos and retakes, we have also begun reporting on what we refer to as "Habits of Work".  Our Habits of Work scores help us to reinforce the importance of punctuality, meeting deadlines, and mindful participation in classes.  Scores are awarded on a three point scale and specific criteria is communicated by individual teachers in each course.

Please follow the link below to read a piece called ”Redos and Retakes Done Right” by Rick Wormeli, national educational consultant . In this Educational Leadership article, Wormeli provides the philosophical argument for allowing redos in schools then goes on to offer practical strategies for implementation.  It's great to see many of the practices he describes becoming more common at BHS!

Redos and Retakes Done Right