Repair Kit Fix 2: Late Work

On to fix 2: Don’t reduce marks on “work” submitted late, provide support for the learner.

Ok first impression on this fix is why is work in quotations?  That may seem like a nitpicky thing but I am a detail person.  Next thought is “but that’s not fair to kids who do the work on time, there has to be a consequence!”  Maybe that consequence needs to be something else.  After reading through Fix 1 and the vignette I’m beginning to see that maybe I need to consider the tardiness of a student to class a behavior that needs to be addressed.  I do believe there has to be a consequence.  I mean if you pay your bill late you pay a penalty.  The question is what kind of consequence should result from this behavior?  Maybe the book will have some suggestions.  See my mind is already changing…interesting.

On page 24 The following caught my attention “Many teachers believe they need a policy with penalties to attempt to ensure that students turn in work on time so the teacher can maintain the pace of instruction necessary to meet tight curriculum requirements.”

Yes exactly! So many subjects scaffold, each topic builds on the one before it and if kids miss or don’t understand a lesson it can cause trouble later on.  This is actually why I started grading papers in class with the students.  I have heard people say that teachers who do this are lazy, making their students do their work for them, this statement irritates me because I have a good reason for having my students grade their own work in class.  My first year I graded everything myself and yes it was time consuming and stressful but I did it.  During my second year of teaching while grading I began to notice that students were making the same mistakes over and over again after they should have learned the topic.  When grading papers for students in multiple subject areas or a hundred plus students in just one subject area you sometimes fall behind no matter how hard you try to stay caught up.  I switched to having my students grading in class and when we came across  an item several students missed I could go to the board and immediately reteach the concept.  This resulted in fewer questions missed later on.  Yes grading this way saved some time but as I collected the work to look through and record it in my grade book it didn’t save as much time as you would think.

OK that was way off track wasn’t it but the concern stands if students turn in work late it makes it difficult for teachers to assess their skill and knowledge to make sure they don’t get lost as we keep teaching.

“The same student who is late with work in week 2 is frequently late in weeks 18 and 36.” (page 25)  This is so true and taking points away from the score does not change the result in most students.  Yes there are students who are conscientious enough that losing points for one late score is enough that it never happens again.  On the whole though, those students who chronically turn in late work don’t change their habits because they receive a lower grade.  So why keep doing it.  There’s a quote “Keep doing what you’ve always done and you’ll get what you’ve always gotten.”  I think that applies here.

My main argument for late grade penalties has always been that it prepares kids for the real world, life as an adult where deadlines are deadlines and there are consequences if you don’t meet them.  The book points out however that responsible adults “communicate with the person or institution to whom we are responsible to arrange a new mutual agreement and then work to meet it.” (page 25)  I like the idea of having a mix of deadlines some hard and fast while others are flexible and teaching students how to approach a teacher respectfully to request an extension.  Though this still leaves me wondering about consequences for the behavior.

“Students who are late with important assessment evidence could be required to come in before school, at lunchtime, or after school where they will receive both the assistance and time they need.” (page 26)  I’m all for this approach but it does require parental backing and support which is not there in students with this problem about half of the time in my experience, may be more or less for other teachers.

Student Involvement:

“Teacher…should encourage the student to acknowledge the lateness and request an extension and/or suggest other appropriate consequences.” (page 27)

This feels like it would need to be something we would train students to do.  Maybe offer forms or form notes to fill out at the younger grades or simply at the beginning of the year shifting to the student taking more responsibility for the request.  You could also sit down with the class and brainstorm a list of possible consequences, this could be done in conjunction with the setting of class rules and writing of class constitution that is done in so many elementary school classrooms.  For middle school or high school it may need to be a school wide policy or set by teacher if only in that teacher’s classroom.


“Students were told that if they submitted on or before due date we would return the project by the next class and provide extensive feedback…Students could revise up to the date of the final exam.” (page 28)

I really like this idea but I wonder how that would work logistically.  This is for college classes and I wonder how many students they had, how many took advantage of this, then I wonder how would this transfer to elementary, middle or high school?  Maybe only allow redo on certain assignments/projects?

Policy Example:

I like the specific example of policy given in the book.  Some of the consequences are ones I have used before in conjunction with points penalties: call home, students come before or after school, missing/late work sheet filled out (though not a contract as in this policy). I like the possibility of students being pulled from co-curricular/extra-curricular commitments until work is complete.

Ok time for my final thoughts on this fix.  Obviously I had a lot more to say because this was a fix I was skeptical about when I first heard it.  I’m now convinced late assignments should be graded as normal to provide the most accurate picture of the student’s learning while the behavior receives a consequence.  When I get into a classroom position again I will create flexible deadlines for some assignments and firm deadlines for others with plenty of advanced warning on those.  I will also teach my students how to ask for an extension should they need one.

So what do you think?  Have you changed your mind?  Are you curious to learn more and maybe read this fix yourself?


Repair Kit study guide: behavior in grades and late work

Well I finished up with my Appendix B pre-assessment and thoughts on it so it’s time to move on to Appendix C.  This one is 21 questions.  Yikes!  That’s a lot to think about, and ended up being 17 pages of notes.  Yes I will be breaking this into multiple parts, and I’m not even sure how many but I will try to keep any one post from being too long.  Just for a little more info, this assessment is broken down into 3 sections, the first thirteen questions are about the frequency of doing certain things, the next six questions are and agree to disagree scale, and the final three questions are all about the confidence level.

So for today I’ll start with the frequency questions and honestly I’m not sure how many I’m going to cover of the thirteen, going to have to see how long it looks after I type up the first one or two and then make a decision, though I have a distinct feeling it will be multiple posts and I hope they won’t bore you, though I know I have more personal stories in my responses to Appendix C than I did to Appendix B.

Ok time to get started:

1) I include one or more of the following in grades: effort, participation, tardiness, attendance, and/or adherence to class rules.

I have never included these things in grades.  Wait, correction I did include participation one year but having been a student who lost points because I was hesitant to raise my hand in class if I had students who were shy or uncomfortable reading aloud in class I would pull the student asid and let them know what we would be reading the next day so that they could go home and read it that night to prepare.  After that one year however I stopped including participation in grades.  I’m really honestly not sure why I ever did except maybe I thought it was what I was supposed to do.

In every school I’ve ever taught in attendance, tardies, and behavior in class were NOT part of the academic grade.  At least one of the districts I taught in had a separate effort and conduct score.


2) I reduce points/marks on work submitted late. 

Yes I have done this so I selected almost always as my frequency.  I had a policy in my first year that most of the teachers I worked with had as well, made it easy for me to adopt it as the students were already familiar with it.  I deducted ten percent for every day the assignment was late, after that it was a zero.  The following year I changed the policy to ten percent off each day for five days and then it was a zero.  It was just too hard to grade papers that late from multiple students and to try to figure out when they had 

turned it in and how many days it was late.  The policy still bothered me so I hemmed and hawed, wavered all over the place.  In the real world I argued with myself if you turn your work in late or pay bills late there are consequences, to the point of possibly losing your job, car, or even house, so I felt it was necessary that t

In my last year as a classroom teacher, remember I’m a classroom assistant currently this is what happens when you move :). the 

middle school I worked at had instituted Professional Learning Communities (PLCs). For us part of that was implementing Intervention time meaning each core and special teacher had a group of 6th, 7th, or 8th grade students.  We met weekly to discuss how things were going.  We also set a SMART goal (Specific, Measurable, Attainable, Relevant, and Time-bound for those 

unfamiliar with the term) for our students.  Our goal was to decrease the number of Ds and Fs our students earned.  Somewhere I have the exact wording of that goal, somewhere in storage I’m sure.  Anyway at our weekly PLC meetings we discussed anything on the agenda for the day and also handed out missing work to each teacher to take back to the kids in their Intervention group.  I did still deduct at least 10% from the late work, maybe more by that point I had dropped to 10% off the first day late, 20% the second day late, and 30% after that still allowing it to be turned in up to the day grades were due.  We met our goal, as I recall we surpassed it, the number of Ds and Fs on the next quarter’s report cards dropped significantly not only because of work being turned in late 

but also because some students realized it was better to just do the work when it was due rather than have to do it later.  My intervention group participated in enrichment activities if they had their missing work done, this was a motivator for a few of the students.  Grades also went up because in a small group students were more likely to ask questions, get help on things they didn’t understand, and still others were able to get work done that they couldn’t get done at home for any number of reasons.

here be a consequence.

I still believe that there should be some consequence for late work but I also feel work should be required to be done.  There are things in life you have to do and homework is one of them!  You don’t learn to drive without practice (I list this because it is the goal of every teenager I’ve ever known, and a lot of pre-teens too) and you won’t learn most anything you need to for school or work without practice either.

Ok I think it’s time to stop, this is enough for one post, maybe more than enough.  What do you think?  What would your answers be to questions 1 & 2?