Rick Wormeli on redo’s and retakes

I’ve been pondering some recent parent feedback about our senior students lack of engagement with some teachers and the material they are expected to learn. I began my reflections about the students coming from the digital generation and expecting to be entertained by teachers otherwise they are bored or non engaged.

Parents are saying  if there wasn’t enough time to cover the material at school send it home so long as we know and the homework is marked or graded upon its return (thereby signifying its importance).

After watching Rick I am now wondering if we are if fact letting our kids off by a lack of accountability for their learning. His take on encouraging student to relearn the material (after a poor grade) given certain conditions of course is best summed up on his touch down comment on clip 2.

I’m interested in others opinions as he certainly serves it up to teachers who let students off the hook.

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6 Responses to Rick Wormeli on redo’s and retakes

  1. mwalker says:

    You make many what come across as spirited comments that I agree with although in my reading of Rick’s work its not about being against deadlines as they are a fact of life (work readiness as you say). He seems to say that giving a person in a learning context a chance to understand the work doesn’t limit them to that 1 opportunity.

    I have applied some of his thinking to students not completing their practice work at home – its not about pass or fail but actually doing the work at another opportunity (be that at a time when the rest is doing something else).

    American Idol (like its counter part in Australia) does have some interesting “musicians” who do need feedback that practice must be based on feedback learning to do the “thing” in small steps correctly. I don’t think many lots have received that sort of “constructive” feedback

    Hey thanks for the comment. Enjoyed the discussion.


  2. Regarding Mr. Wormeli’s article (http://thecenter.spps.org/uploads/retakes_and_redos_wormeli.pdf)

    He argues that setting deadlines is arbitrary and creates a system that punishes students for failing to achieve a certain level of competency within a certain amount of time. He further argues, that this system is counter productive and not modeled in the working world. He claims that professionals thrive in an environment where and when redos are allowed and encouraged. His examples include an Olympic runner, surgeons, musicians, and pilots (among others). The argument is that all of these professionals achieved their level of compentancy only after years of redos, and further, are not judged by the aggregated compilation of all their past redos, just on their present level of achievement. He chides teachers that adhere to deadlines and a work-place readiness philosophy.

    Here is why he is wrong.

    Unless there is an assumption of universal improvement; a notion that all students can acheive competancy if only given the chance (and time) to do so; allowing a redo simply creates another arbitrary deadline. Redos can not be given indefinitely. At some point, some one is going to say enough is enough. In such a case, the deadline will be imposed from outside; the end of the marking period, the end of the school year, or graduation day, for example. To suggest that deadlines don’t reflect the real world has never missed a credit card payment, or a mortgage payment, or a doctors appointment without consequences.

    Let us consider the professionals Wormeli offers as evidence of the value of redos. He claims the Olympic runner is past the redo phase and is in the proficient-runner stage. But this misapplies the notion of redos. It wasn’t the redo phase that got the runner to a level of proficiency. It was practice. The only reason why the runner has achieved an Olympic level of proficiency is because they survived the CUT phase. The proper analogy would be to suggest that the runner was allowed to re-run a losing race. The problem is, races have deadlines.

    And many professions, with high levels of achievement and proficiency, DO aggregate their past redos in forming the final assessment. The first place team is in first because of their season’s performance, the good and the bad. Not because of the result of their last game. The most improved team in baseball can still finish in last place, especially if that improvement came too close to the deadline.

    Wormeli suggests that musicians get better by playing a lot. He’s right. But his point is that “applying expectations for a high level of proficiency to students who are in the process of coming to know content is counterproductive, even harmful”. But no one was suggesting that the intermediate expectation is the same as the final one. A first-week guitarist should know how to tune the instrument. If they can’t master that, all future learning is affected. It is not counterproductive to “drop” a guitar student that can’t learn how to tune. Not everyone can be a musician. The real harm comes from suggesting that they can. (Just watch American Idol).

    Redos have their place, but to suggest that the LACK of redos is a problem is false.

  3. mwalker says:

    Hi Nina,
    I, like yourself, like Rick’s work as well and thanks for making the connections.

  4. mwalker says:

    Hi Rick,
    Thanks for the comment and link to Dylan William’s work on assessment.

    Your thoughts on gradings or judgments weakening the instructional power of specific feedback bear some further thought. I wonder if linking grading to an agreed quality rubric adds value to the feedback and the potential most importantly to have student self reflect on their work and then take action as a result of the feedback.

    Your link to Dylan’s work is great. I have started to read his year 2000 work around the summative and formative functions of assessment.

    I’m particularly drawn to his comment that an assessment task or I would substitute task that is going to give formative feedback (e.g. homework task) needs to be a proxy for a wider domain – by that I take it that a quality rubric for say an argumentive piece of writing cover a few domains and that the same rubric could be used over a period of time for that style of writing.

    I’m continuing to read Dylan’s work so I might get back to you on that. Great link by the way.


  5. Nina Davis says:

    Hi Mark,
    Ricks been reading my blog posts on differentiation and leaving comments.Love his work.It was one of your previous blog posts that got me reading / following his work.
    Cheers Nina

  6. Rick Wormeli says:

    Hey Mark — Thank you for exploring this. Nina Davis sent me to your Blog here, and it’s terrific! In looking at your reflection above, I’d offer a caution to those parents that an assignment’s worth is only in relation to whether or not it’s graded or marked. We can mark assignments for completion which is really a report of student compliance, not an indicator of mastery or proficiency regarding that assignment’s focus. It turns out homework needs specific feedback, not judgment, in order to be useful. When homework assignments are judged, i.e. receive an official mark or grade, it loses it’s instructional value. Soon, formative assignments in which we wrestle with ideas become summary judgments without learning value. We don’t want to undermine that instructional power. Dylan Wiliam out of the U.K. (www.dylanwiliam.net) provides some nice research and perspective this. Thanks again for taking a journey with this! — Rick Wormeli, Herndon, Virginia, USA

Interested in your thoughts