Evaluating My Late Work Policy
What do we do when a student is failing? True, this is a vague question. We want more information in order to evaluate what should be done.
Before school started this year, our staff discussed ways that we can help reduce the growing number of students who are failing classwork. The one corner of the discussion that received a great deal of attention was the idea of whether to accept late work. The rationale behind allowing late work was that it allows us to grade what the students actually know, and not their work ethic. In theory, I agree.
So, I reworked my late work policy to allow students to turn in late work, but at a price. I used the credit card like system where the more assignments turned in late, the more interest the student paid--with the maximum I'd take away set at around 50%.
After a quarter of the year, I've finshed evaluating this concept. It sucks. It has turned out to be a terrible idea for two reasons. The first is that I've created a management nightmare for myself. Perhaps a teacher whose annual goal isn't to become better at organization could pull this off, but for me, it isn't working. And yet, I can't use that alone as the reason to toss out the idea. That would be selfish. Remember, we need to be about the best interest of the students, and tossing that idea out would be to merely make my life easier.
But the second reason borders between both selfish and in the best interest of the students. Next year, when my Pre-College Senior venture off to whatever university or college they choose, many professors will scoff at the belief that essays can be turned in on the student's time table. The result of my new method is a rise in students who turn work in late. Again, this creates a management nightmare for me.
It means that I have to e-mail parents more often. It means that I have to remind students to get work done. It means that weeks after I've finished grading the assignment, I have to return to it. Believe me, that is not always an enjoyable time.
So, now I wonder what has been gained by accepting late work to satisfy my administration and to hold to an ideal. Is my policy really benefiting the students?
To the extent that they may still receive credit, sure, it helps. But as I turned in grades for the first quarter, and still had about the same number of students failing as I have in the past, I couldn't help but wonder if it's worth the hassle.