The answers to these questions can be seen in every school. The kid who makes straight A's all the time and finds school to be easy may not understand that less-than-perfect is still pretty good. This student may also suffer when that first B shows up on the report card. I have witnessed an interesting connection over the years. The later in a school a child receives his first B on a report card, the bigger the reaction. Seeing a six foot tall 8th grade boy cry like a baby because of that first B is not a pretty sight. That did not mean that all of his grades throughout his years did not accurately reflect his learning. They may have! But did we do this kid a disservice by providing him an easy avenue of all A's long the way?
Likewise, we all know the kids who barely scrape by. Or, they don't scrape by at all. They simply muddle through their day with very limited exposure to success. We work our tails off in an attempt to catch them up. Hopefully, we design learning experiences for these kids that provide some small glimpses of success so they will yearn for more success! Lots of these kids don't see their personal little successes because they are too focused on the fact that they cannot succeed like the rest of the kids in the class. They want nothing more than to succeed like the rest of the class. But they don't so they become completely disenchanted. With no light at the end of their little tunnels, they give up. With no comparable success, why try? We all know kids like this.
How much success is necessary to facilitate future success? The answer is different for everyone. How do we create learning scenarios for every kid that will provide the correct amount of challenge and the correct amount of success?