Truth #1 - Kids don't acquire confidence to try new things and succeed in life by being told that they are failures on a daily basis. Truth #2 - People learn at different rates. Doesn't matter how many times it takes you to learn something, as long as you really LEARN it. You DO get multiple attempts to pass the bar exam, take the Praxis assessment, demonstrate mastery to get your driver's license. Truth #3 - Even in business in the "real world," if you don't master something on your first attempt in training, they're generally not going to fire you. Truth #4 - It is more rigorous to expect students to LEARN, no matter how many attempts it takes, rather than assigning them a D and moving on. Truth #5 -It's NOT OK to allow children NOT to learn. Expect mastery, even if it takes longer. As part of my job, I get to go around and do fun things like presentations on formative instructional practices or differentiated instruction or best practices in math. Sometimes, I get a little pushback from participants who are quite comfortable doing things the way they've always done them. I find some of the reluctance to engage in new practices is tied to a basic philosophical difference in what the role of a teacher should be and what a grade is. The traditional approach has teachers as dispensers of knowledge, responsible for preparing students for college, or, better yet, "the REAL world." (as in "What's this nonsense about formative assessment and retaking tests? They can't do that in the REAL world.") I'm not sure what world you live in, but in the one I inhabit, it is IMPORTANT to make sure people are learning when they're being trained. I'm not putting a pilot in the air with a plane alone until he has demonstrated many times that he can land. I may allow him to use a flight simulator. I have a veteran pilot with him as he is learning. I allow him to take his test to be a licensed pilot repeatedly because he MUST master the material. AFTER he is licensed, a mistake may be fatal and so I can't give him multiple attempts to land the plane on the job, but during his learning phase, I make sure he gets the skill. When students are in school, it is IMPERATIVE that they master the skills and knowledge they need to succeed in life. (what that set of skills and knowledge might be is a different topic for another time) Giving a summative assessment before students are ready and then moving on is not good practice, nor is it more rigorous than expecting mastery, no matter how many times it takes. A bigger conversation needs to occur around what a grade is...what is the purpose of grading students? What does a grade mean? The prevailing view of grades in the 50's was a mechanism whereby students were ranked, and indeed, today, we still use grades to rank students. Valedictorian Salutatorian. Honor student. 5th in the class. Those titles are important to many people, and they want quantifiable evidence of where they stand. Of course today, we know that ALL children can learn and the standardization movement has forced us to consider that all children need to learn at higher levels. Our global economy has pressured us to push students towards "College and Career Readiness" (as if those mean the same thing for every child!). Today, a grade needs to provide us with information. Instead of ranking children with respect to others in their classes, we look to grades to tell us where students are with respect to a given standard of education. In other words, grades should reflect actual learning. If a student takes 3 attempts to demonstrate mastery, he/she has learned the same material and should receive the same grade. If I were the goddess of education, I would not have letter grades at all, which would end the debate entirely. Until then, let's simply concentrate on good education and concern ourselves with making sure we are teaching ALL students well.