Best class my daughter ever had was a math teacher who created "Judo Math". It went something like this: There was a white silicon wrist band given at the beginning. After the first lesson and subsequent worksheets, the kids took a test. If they passed with 8/10, they moved on to yellow belt (yellow wrist band). If they did not pass they could keep trying until they could pass 8/10. There were usually 10 problems on a worksheet (not 40!) After yellow belt, anyone could advance themselves by taking the initiative and learning on their own, or there would be a new lesson every few weeks. I think it was yellow, orange, black and green (Sensei). Once you reached green, you went back and helped the other kids who were having problems. There were four math sections where you could earn up to the green belt within a certain time frame. The goal was to get everyone to orange in each section, at the very least. Homework didn't count for anything except to help you get to the next level. Kids did homework because they wanted to move up and get another band! My daughter hit green every time and has been advanced in all subsequent math classes (she and a few others have special assignments). No one ever has to fail unless they just do not understand the concepts at all or refuse to work. This grade level gets a 41% advanced score and 33% proficient on standardized tests, in an area where 14% advanced is considered high. I thought I'd share the idea. It actually shows mastery in a tangible way to the students.
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