Carnival of Education

This Week in Education is hosting this week’s Carnival of Education.

At A Teacher’s Perspective, Strausser asks whether students should receive a zero for missing or late work.

My 8th grade team feels very strongly that we do NOT accept late work and so if something is not turned in on time, they do not receive credit. The way we look at it is in 8th grade it is sooooooooo very important that we teach accountability and try to instill a solid academic work ethic — to be frank I honestly believe these 2 things are a lot more important than the actual 8th grade science curricula that I am supposed to cover (especially considering everything I teach this year they will get again in high school).

The principal and others think a student’s grade should reflect learning, not “behavior” issues.

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  1. The principal is concerned about learning? It seems he/she wants students to learn that they don’t have to turn assignments in on time.

  2. Cardinal Fang says:

    It’s not clear to me what the effect a zero would have on the student’s grade. Suppose there were ten assignments, and the kid forgot to turn in two of them*, but got 100 on all the other eight. He’d get 80%, a B-. Is that reflective of the kid’s actual knowledge? I think not.

    * I know that several of you will not believe that students forget to turn in assignments, and will say that “forgetting” is just an excuse for not having done the assignment. Unfortunately, however, kids with ADHD are so disorganized that they really do forget to turn in assignments.

    I know this all too well. First of all, I know online several mothers who have ADHD kids who forget to turn in assignments; some of these mothers have taken to photocopying the assignments to prove that the kids have in fact done them. Secondly, I myself have been an ADHD kid who forgot to turn in assignments, so I know it happens.

  3. Your boss is not going to care why you didn’t do you work, or show up for work, 20% of the time.

    One of the most over-looked aspects of school is its function in prteparing students to behave properly in the workforce.

    I also teach 8th grade, and I also give zeroes for missing assignments.

  4. Catch Thirty Thr33 says:

    Why not dole out zeroes for missing homework assignments? Does this prinicpal pay contractors to work on his house in spite of them not doing their jobs?
    In the transportation world, if my cargo doesn’t make it to Point B on time, I lose that money and perhaps the customer. Why not have SOMETHING in education actually reflect the Real World for a change?

  5. Why not have SOMETHING in education actually reflect the Real World for a change?

    Because the job of school is not to reflect the real world. The job of the school is to educate, to impart knowledge and make sure it sticks. At the elementary and middle levels, the school’s job should not include forcing upon students adult responsibilities at a developmentally inappropriate age. The areas of the brain responsible for executive functioning don’t finish developing until the late teens.

    A school that tries to teach responsibility before getting to the little things like reading and math, will end up never getting around to actual education. They will keep beating their heads up against the wall of cognitive development; their students, once old enough to be capable of executive functioning, will have no background knowledge to occupy it with, just years of school frustration. Is it a wonder so many teenagers drop out?


  6. mike from oregon says:

    School is suppose to teach you many things, not just the three R’s. You are suppose to learn social behavior as well as academic responsibilities. Granted, in my opinion public schools don’t do the three R’s or social behavior well but part of the degradation of what the school taught WAS when the schools moved away from placing responsibilities on the child.

    You get what you earn and you need to be responsible for your self and your work. Prior to ADHD diagnosis people with it figured out ways of coping with life. People with ADHD have a life ahead of them, time to figure out how to deal with it for the rest of it.

    Bottom line – YES, give zeros!

  7. I’m a college prof and I’m appalled by the number of students I get who consider deadlines to be advice and not mandatory. (I suppose it’s because their earlier teachers didn’t want to hurt their precious self-esteem by giving zeros for late assignments).

    I don’t accept late assignments. My rationale is two parted:

    1. Whereever they work (eventually), they will not be allowed to show up to work late or not at all (Well, unless they become a building contractor or a furnace repair person, but that’s totally another issue). College is in part training for the workplace.

    2. I have upwards of 100 students some semesters. I schedule in time for grading. When I get my grading done, I want it to be done (at least for a few days). Why should I have to take time on, say, a Friday afternoon to grade the assignments of 3 people who didn’t have their crap together enough to turn them in on time?

    I suppose I have SOME sympathy for the ADD people, except that I’m chronically forgetful myself, and I use a little invention called “a to-do list” to keep track of what I need to, like, do.

  8. Some deduction for late work is appropriate, but “zero” is too extreme. A good paper turned in one day late is not the same as a paper never done at all.

    Where are all these private-sector companies where nothing is ever late? I’ve never had the good fortune to encounter any of them. Software projects are very often late. Products miss their launch dates. Companies sometimes delay the filing of their 10-Ks.

  9. Sharon R. says:

    I was always grateful in college for profs who would accept late work – typically marking it down a grade for every day it was late. I turned in a lot of papers that would have been A’s if I’d gotten them in on time. But on the due date, sometimes I would have nothing. Not for lack of bothering to try — I remember more than one occassion of standing in the college library crying because I couldn’t get past some stupid mental block that stopped me from being able to pick a book up off the shelf and start working, even when I understood my topic and had a plan for my paper. Exams? No problem. Papers? A small death, every one. Until the due date was on me (or even passed), when I would suddenly be able to work, feverishly and well.

    Oddly enough, in the workplace (I was a very well-paid Tech Support “engineer” for a major software company, and was the top troubleshooter in my group, until I quit to be a full-time mom) I found that bosses and customers were willing to wait a little longer for output from me when they knew the quality would be topnotch, versus a quick wrong answer from someone else. The main skill I found I had to learn was the art of keeping everyone up to date with status of their problem.

    I was also smart (or fortunate) enough to go into a field where “late but perfect” was often fine (or where there were few specific due dates).

    If all late work had been refused by my profs, I might still have graduated, but my grades would not have reflected either my knowledge or my quantity or quality of work. I’m still grateful for that mercy.

  10. Cardinal Fang says:

    Does this prinicpal pay contractors to work on his house in spite of them not doing their jobs?

    You’re using contractors as an example of people who are on time? It has not been my experience that contractors are prompt. Moreover, in my work life as a software engineer, it was my experience that projects were always late. Always.

    Prior to ADHD diagnosis people with it figured out ways of coping with life.

    In a lot of cases, they figured out very bad ways to to cope: getting thrown out of school, getting fired, alcoholism, drug abuse.

    I say mark down the students for late work, but don’t give them zeros. That wouldn’t be anything like the real world.

  11. I find it telling that when complaining, we always assume the worst of the other side. They are slackers, they didn’t care, blah blah.

    Oh the real world this, the real world that. We need to teach kids about the “Real World” ™.

    So you hire a roofer, and he is late one day, or doesn’t show up for 2 days cuz his kid was in the hospital… you FIRE him. Right! That’s how the real world works! The real world is full of heartless asshats who will just FIRE you if you miss an appoitment or a dealine.

    Sure, give the kids a zero. Who cares if he was sick, or something bad happened, he needs to learn about the real world, becuase it’s just an excuse, he was really being a SLACKER!

    Cut no one any slack, ever, because the “Real World” never cuts any one any slack. I’m glad I don’t live in this heartless “Real World.”

  12. We have some classes designed for students who have not succeeded previously. No grade lower than a 70% is recorded. Work which is not turned in at all or which is turned in done incorrectly is reassigned. For the latter, this is a great system. Kids keep working on an objective until they master it. For the former, however, not receiving a zero for work never turned in has the same effect as assuming that the kid mastered the objective. Students can earn a C or better in a class when they turned in less than half of the work and received 70% or better on that which they did turn in. Real world or not, ADHD or not, somehow that just doesn’t seem right.

    In the real world (as I tell my students in my advanced classes where we are encouraged to accept late work with no penalty whatsoever, so I’ve worked out my own system) sometimes late work is okay, sometimes it isn’t. Even at companies who would prefer late and perfect over quick and wrong, you may occasionally have a client who simply wants quick and right. As a teacher, I don’t know which company my students will end up at, either – and I’m trying to prepare them for success regardless of where they work or for whom.

    In the real world, once a student or anyone else leaves the agreed upon bounds of when something is due, there may or may not be consequences. THAT is the real world. In my class, I strive to mirror the same while remaining fair. Students who have late work are often required to tutor another student on another assignment (or even subject in which the late work student excels) in order to turn their own late work in without penalty; sometimes I offer an additional assignment which the on-timers do not need to complete; sometimes I take it with no penalty. With a lot of communication/explaining ahead of time on my part, I’ve had a very good response from students, parents, and administrators to this approach, and I’m thankful to have figured out how to have the right balance of real world and school preparation/learning moment for my students.

    One “lesson” I’d ask everyone to consider taking away from this lengthy discussion, however, is that teaching remains harder than it looks … even seemingly simple issues (how do you handle late work?) really aren’t. With over 140 students who, on any given day, may not have an assignment on time, it’s not easy deciding what is best for each one in his/her academic and character education. WORTH IT, but not easy.

  13. B. Martin says:

    To grade a late assignment as a zero is a wasted educational experience. To a 13-14 year old, it breeds resentment of teachers more than a lesson. These are immature beings and have to be taught, not punished. Punishment is not a suitable educational tool.

    I find it ironic reading teachers talking about missing deadlines in the “real” world. How would they know? I am faculty at a university and there has never been a hard internal deadline that couldn’t be changed if a faculty member needed extra days. Yes, granting agencies do have hard deadline, but these are rapidly changing to target dates.

    How are teachers penalized when they misplace student work or miss a deadline for returning the graded assignment? Do the students get extra points on an exam when they didn’t have the graded assignments to gauge level of their knowledge for that unit?

    Chronically late students are one issue; what about the honor student who has a human event, forgetting to pack his paper before bed, and then doesn’t have his assgignment to hand in on time? Is is real assessment when a “A” becomes a “B+” or even a “B”? I realize that middle school grades are relatively meaningless, but this attitude for punishment is too prevalent with high school teachers.

    If responsibility is a social skill to be learned, then assess as any social skill is handled. A bully is not graded downwards. Lateness should not affect grades, certainly not at the middle or high school level.