November 08, 2010
As a proponent of assessment for learning, I do not give extra credit because that gives students and parents the wrong message. To call rigorous additional assignments ‘extra credit’ goes against the grain, as though a student can slack off and then redeem themselves through extra credit. What I offer instead, is bonus projects where students can ramp up their skills through further exploration of content work. These bonus projects use the same skills but encourage students to go above and beyond their current skills. Since I teach photography, a bonus assignment in digital colorization, for instance, might be to take a portrait and give it a vintage, hand tinted look through use of duo tones and selective color. The students turn this bonus project in with a grading rubric which addresses the same standards as the current assignment. Rigorous exploration is a much better way to approach this issue. It asks students to demonstrate their ability to apply targeted skills at a higher level.