Assessing Reassessment (Holding down the ‘s’ key)

I had a wonderful conversation with a very precocious student today. We’re barely three weeks into physics, and we’ve touched the following standards:

  • Linearization
  • Interpretations of Units
  • Constant Velocity Model
  • Constant Acceleration Model
  • Orthogonal, Qualitative Free-Body Diagrams
In case you're wondering what linearization is. Here's some acceleration data from a free fall. The parabolic fit matches 0.5*a nicely.
Here's the same data but linearized. I created a calculated column from the time (to t squared). This creates a nice line, where the students can analyze the slope to see that its units make more intuitive sense (m/s^2)!

I say “touched” because, in any SBG good system, you’re never really done with anything. The students will get better with these targets as we add more on top. I will keep assessing their understanding, and their proficiency lists will match (I no longer use my old 5-10 scale, or any number grades at all, actually.)

The student felt like she was proficient with more of the standards than I have recorded in BlueHarvest, and she wanted to start a reassessment. This was a no-go. I have been in total control of reassessments ever since the great points-run of 2009 where several students were trampled in a free-for-all reassessment bonanza.

I have a feeling this quote is not unique:

Well, when I take the quiz, I feel like I sort of know what I’m doing, but when I get it back, I realize that I didn’t. Then you explain it on the board, so I totally understand, so I just want to take it again right now while I understand.

These words are coming from a fantastic student. If my daughter grows up to be like her, I will be happy. However, the last bit is unacceptable from a teaching and learning vantage.

If we’re going to make this SBG thing work, we’re going to have to make sure it’s more rigorous without being more dickish. We’re going to have to make sure that students are actually retaining information. Reassessment quickly slides down the infinitely slippery slope into retaking, which is a horrible place full of rotting self-esteem-movement pamphlets and nag champa residue.

My response to this students went like this: I can’t let you reassess right now, because you may have inadvertently crammed. Cramming is evil. Cramming is the antithesis of learning. Cramming makes me hulk out, even though the hulk meme is getting so tired. Here’s an article from the ineffable Hestenes for you to chew on.

I assured her that she will have ample opportunity in the weeks and months to come to show me that she can linearize a curve or apply the constant velocity model.

She just has to wait and retain it. That’s education reform I can get behind.