Without any errors–Really?

Cathy L. of Carterville, IL asks:

On page 17 of the manual it states that a student passes a set of facts by meeting or passing his personal goal without errors. In our school, 3rd grade, a student’s goal was 45 multiplication facts. The student got 54 problems but missed one — 1×2. He got that same problem correct several other times on the paper but missed one and the teacher said he had to try again. What are your thoughts on this? Thanks! We love rocket math!

Cathy, thanks for asking! And a big thank you for reading the manual!!!
Yes, we do say no errors. But, it is clear that the student knows the fact because he answered it correctly. The error is a “rate induced error” meaning he made it simply because he was going so fast. Research shows that students who “know” something can still make up to 5% rate induced errors. So there are certainly reasons to allow the student some leeway.
I’d lean toward leeway, but it might cause a problem because you are being inconsistent. [Many is the time my students made me regret a momentary lapse in consistency!] What about the next time he makes an error, or his next door peer? Students want to test the limits and so will force you to be consistent.
The good news is that there is very little chance of that happening again tomorrow, if you have the student do that set again tomorrow. In other words, he’ll get one more day of practice on that set of facts, which is certainly beneficial, and he’ll move on the next day. So all things considered, I’d ask him to try again tomorrow and see if he can’t meet his goal without any errors. It is better to 100% accurate even if that means you are a little slower. Hopefully you can see there is room for your own judgment, but there are consequences from being more lenient.

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