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Quit Point: Understanding Student Apathy in the Classroom

As data continues to become an important part of education, one important data point is missing: Quit Point. Recognizing this factor in student learning can have a profound impact on educators as we attempt to improve student performance and close the achievement gap. When a student is not optimistic of a successful outcome (as they define success) they cease to give consistent effort towards learning. That can take the form of effort rationing, in which teachers will see a steady decline in student engagement, or all out student quit, in which students will shut down and provide little to no effort. If educators are assessing student learning, Quit Point needs to be taken into account.

Educators are mistaking Quit Point as lack of student learning. Traditional point based grading exacerbates the problems by penalizing students' effort rationing and quit with low scores on daily learning assignments. Rather than using formative assessment simply to guide instruction, teachers award points to daily lessons in an attempt to motivate students. The teacher in this scenario has failed to recognize the quit point, and is now mistaking a student's lack of compliance as a lack of learning. This scenario can quickly spiral into increasing levels of student quit.

So what are educators to do? Teachers need to recognize the reality of student apathy, account for student Quit Point, and focus on assessing learning rather than compliance. When a student is non-compliant due to Quit Point, that assessment is simply incomplete until a time when the student does demonstrate what they comprehend. It's time for educators to redesign learning in their classroom with Quit Point as a major variable in the equation.

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