Late penalty

Coach Brown, who doesn’t accept late homework, disagrees with Tom Schimmer, who argues that late penalties are a mistake because quality is more important than punctuality.

Once a due date has been given, most teachers can predict which students will be on-time and which students will be late. . . .  The few that struggle with deadlines need support, not penalties. 

The real world has deadlines, Coach Brown argues. 

. . .  most students that don’t hand in work on time don’t do so because they need support, because most teachers offer that support.  Instead, most students don’t hand in work because they chose to do something else. A student that struggles with deadlines needs to learn that they are necessary. Just try asking the credit card companies for support.

Grades should reflect students’ mastery of learning objectives, Schimmer argues.

Would you rather a student hand-in high quality work late or poor quality work on-time? Meeting a deadline is a good thing – even a great thing – but it doesn’t have anything to do with how much Math or Social Studies you understand!

Are assignments turned in late typically of higher quality? I suspect not.

In my newspaper years, I liked deadlines. The deadline says: Do the best you can in 20 column inches by 2 pm. (If you’re running late, talk to the copy editor and find out the real deadline.) Get it done in time so you don’t delay other people. Then move on.

About Joanne

Comments

  1. Michael E. Lopez says:

    I think Joanne has her finger on the right issue when she talks about not delaying other people.

    There’s no objective reason having to do with the assignment that a midterm essay needs to be turned in on January 7th instead of January 10th. But what there *IS* is a teacher who needs to grade them, and needs to get the grading done and recorded so that he or she can move on to other things.

    So there’s a perfectly good reason to have deadlines for assignments, that tracks with the reason we have deadlines for all sorts of other things. This is quite apart from the fact that school deadlines are also an EXCELLENT way to practice punctuality (which is a type of respect if you think about it) in an environment where you aren’t likely to get fired, lose clients, stop someone’s production line, or have your license taken away.

  2. Michael, that’s exactly MY issue with students wanting to hand in late work. I have a pretty tight schedule with teaching, research, volunteer work. So when I make an assignment due, I am effectively saying, “I have made time in the next three days to get these graded” (I pride myself on returning work, with comments and grades, within a week or less).

    So, I set aside, say, four hours on a Saturday to grade an assignment due in on Friday. BUT! Several students don’t have it done – can they have until Monday? Well, yes – but then I have to find 30 minutes or whatever to grade them during the coming week, which means I move something else I was planning to do…

    It’s a question of respect, though I think there’s a sizable minority of college students who don’t really respect their profs at all, who think the profs are automatons who only live to teach, and so late papers should be no problem at all.

    I have also never received a late paper that was better than the majority of ones turned in on time. Time management is a valuable lesson to learn.

    What particularly irks me is when I give a student three weeks or more to complete a short paper, and they call me up the night before with questions – and make it clear they haven’t started it. At that point I just want to say, “Okay, here’s the deal: just don’t do the paper. Just don’t hand it in. You’re not going to do a creditable job on it and it’s only going to annoy me to grade it.”

  3. I accept late work, with clear penalties, but giving a zero gives excess weight to that one assignment. A fifty is still an F. I only give zeroes for assignments that aren’t turned in.

  4. My DH was TA for a graduate course at Harvard and he couldn’t believe how many of the students came to him *AFTER* the deadline asking for extensions because of things that were known prior to the deadline. He would’ve granted nearly all of them had the students approached him prior to the deadline, but the only ones he granted retrospectively were the ones that were unanticipated. Some of the students complained to the professor, but fortunately the prof backed DH up and kept the late penalties.

    Failure to plan is planning to fail, and better to learn the lesson while a student than to get fired for it when your family is counting on that paycheck to pay the rent/mortgage.

  5. In my newspaper years, I liked deadlines.

    Which is why you became a reporter. There are zillions of jobs where deadlines don’t matter at all.

    I don’t assign math homework. When assigning history and English homework, I make it clear that the work will be on time, and if it isn’t, then they’ll will be staying in at lunch or missing any interesting classwork until it’s done.

    Most of my students turned in the work on time and, if they forgot occasionally, got it to me the next day or so. The students who were consistently late at first changed their behavior because they didn’t like staying in at lunch and after a while, they got the idea that they were going to have to do it anyway, so may as well do it sooner rather than later.

    Teacher convenience is, I’m sorry, just a ridiculous reason to use late penalties. So what if it makes your life a bit more difficult? It’s part of the job. Cope.

  6. “Teacher convenience is, I’m sorry, just a ridiculous reason to use late penalties. So what if it makes your life a bit more difficult? It’s part of the job. Cope.”

    Absurd. Of course things such as efficiency (teacher convenience) must be taken into account in education just like in all areas of life. There is only so much time in a day.

  7. @ Cal What are these zillions of jobs where deadlines don’t matter?

    Having a deadline is an indication that a paper, project or whatever is important. If it doesn’t matter when you finish whatever it is you are working on, then it is likely that the project has little to no importance to anyone.

  8. This applies to younger students but I think you have to look at the student – for some, the deadlines are important. For others, taking extra time to do quality work is more important.
    My 2 kids both have ADHD and have a difficult time organizing their assignments. They have good weeks and bad weeks, but can have trouble catching up from a particularly bad week.
    They need support to get material handed in -sometimes it is even done but they forget to hand it in. No amount of penalties will help them get the work handed in on time, especially if they have multiple long term assignments all in process at the same time. For some important assignments, it is more important for them to do the assignment when they can do quality work than to just get it in on time. On other assigments, I push them to just get something in on time.
    The older boy suddenly started handing things in time when he turned 16 and he had a workload he could handle.

  9. Of course things such as efficiency (teacher convenience) must be taken into account in education just like in all areas of life.

    Not if it results in a grade that incorrectly denotes ability.

    What are these zillions of jobs where deadlines don’t matter?

    Pretty much every operations or service-oriented job you can think of. Lots of jobs never have key deliverables. And of course, at the high end (which isn’t under discussion here), if you’re good enough, they wait for the deadline.

    Again, you all appear to be discussing competent kids who will get a B or a C and tsk, tsk, until they straighten up and fly right. That alone is pretty disgusting; the number of highly competent kids I see with 3.0 or lower GPAs with superlative skills and the number of ordinary kids I see with 4.0s is enough to turn me off teachers and their morality plays.

    But when you get to the lower end, you are talking about kids who are failing math and English and in a hole they can’t dig out of by the first quarter. In many cases, the kids score “basic” or higher on the state tests-but have an F because their teachers felt like “teaching them a lesson” except the lesson had nothing to do with the subject matter.

    It’s a monumental waste of money and time and teachers should not be allowed to fail students if their skills are adequate to the subject. That is, if a ninth grade English teacher passes a student with 6th grade reading and writing skills (which happens all the time) then under no circumstances should that teacher be permitted to fail a student with equal or higher skills.

    It makes the grading system a lie and wastes taxpayer dollars to an extent I don’t even like to think about.

  10. I also worked in newspapers for years (ad design) and as a perfectionist, learned to love deadlines. Without them one would keep refining, honing and reworking material to the point of absurdity.
    Deadlines force one to see the big picture, look at your assignment, cut away the fat, and distill the gist down to something clear and precise.

  11. “Not if it results in a grade that incorrectly denotes ability.”

    There are definitely arguments for changing how grading is done and whether or not to accept late work. I’m just reacting to the idea that “teacher convenience” should never matter in education. Convenience matters in all fields.

    If it is only about ability then just intelligence test the kids and move them on. For the majority of jobs, the person who delivers gets to keep the job even if their ability is lower than the person who didn’t deliver. The waiter who takes forever usually doesn’t last.

  12. While I agree that the grading system is a lie and wastes taxpayer dollars, deadlines exist in the real world.

    We are renovating a house that we will rent to a tenant. We have an agreement that the house will be ready by a certain time. If the house isn’t ready, we will be in breach of the contract and face significant penalties. If our contractor does not get his work done by our deadline, he will face penalties.

    There are several transactions I am involved in at work. If we don’t meet several deadlines, the transaction will not occur that year. There are severe, significant repercussions.

    If we don’t get our taxes or an extension filed by next Monday, there will be repercussions for missing the deadline.

    Can I please come to your world where I no longer have to worry about deadlines?

  13. I’m just reacting to the idea that “teacher convenience” should never matter in education.

    I didn’t say that.

    If we don’t get our taxes or an extension filed by next Monday, there will be repercussions for missing the deadline.

    Only if you owe money. I haven’t filed taxes in April for 20 years. But that’s besides the point. We aren’t talking about an activity. We are talking about a grade that denotes your ability.

    So enough of the “real world” nonsense. School isn’t the real world. Grades don’t equate to real world activities. They are intended to denote one thing: academic ability in the subject matter.

    That most teachers use grades as morality lessons hasn’t escaped the notice of school administration,ed schools, and educational research. All three institutions spend an inordinate time and effort trying to warn/educate/persuade teachers to stop using grades as anything other than an indicator of academic ability.

  14. “That most teachers use grades as morality lessons hasn’t escaped the notice of school administration,ed schools, and educational research. All three institutions spend an inordinate time and effort trying to warn/educate/persuade teachers to stop using grades as anything other than an indicator of academic ability.”

    I’m cool with that. I would actually love to simply have a test at the end of the year or paper to write that determines the students’ grades. Assign homework as practice that I will grade for feedback if the student so chooses; no worries if they don’t. Sounds like my graduate school experience and I learned a lot.

  15. I’d hope that the schools would grade on demonstrated skill level rather than ability.

  16. “Demonstrated skill level” is ability, except in the situations where the teacher’s policies use a non-academic constraint (like not accepting late work) to prevent demonstration. Students can only demonstrate the skill level if they do their work on time, and if they didn’t do their work on time, well, then, they lost their chance to demonstrate their skill.

  17. Cranberry says:

    Having a deadline is an indication that a paper, project or whatever is important. If it doesn’t matter when you finish whatever it is you are working on, then it is likely that the project has little to no importance to anyone.

    I’ll go out on a limb. Most of the assignments I did during my entire k-12 career, as a student, were of little to no importance to anyone.

    Shocker, I know. After all, that algebra worksheet on absolute value in 8th grade? Surely my handing it in on time was important. Chaos theory, and all. If a butterfly in Paris can cause a blizzard in New York, a missing worksheet in Boston can cause havoc in LA. (sarcasm intended)

    Those who are arguing for an academic death penalty for late work are constructing arguments along the lines of, “well, it doesn’t matter now, but in the future, there will be important deadlines, thus practicing complying with arbitrary authority will set them up well for life, and not to do this would be gravely injuring the students.”

    Nonsense, in my opinion. IF you really care about students handing in work on time, then teach them how to plan their work flow. Require them to use agendas. Require them to explain to you why they don’t have work ready. Speak with other teachers in the grade, to learn about the schedule of tests and projects your students face overall. Some teachers are notorious for assigning very large, ambitious projects, at the same time other teachers are also assigning large, ambitious projects, or finals which make up 50% of the grade.

    Don’t schedule deadlines when it’s most convenient for you. Schedule the deadlines for when it’s most convenient for you and for your students. If the grade has an out-of-state field trip from Monday to Thursday, don’t assume the students can complete a paper to hand in on Friday.

    Newspaper employees are paid for their work. They can quit at any time, and the editors can choose from thousands of eager replacements. K-12 students are required to attend school. They are not being paid. To compare complying with deadlines as a professional writer with a student’s complying with deadlines is silly. Those students who are least likely to hand in the work are also the least likely to respect the teacher. Arbitrary grading policies might increase this tendency. If you can predict ahead of time who’s not going to get the work in on time, are you teaching students to master deadlines? Or are you rewarding those who entered your class as organized people, and penalizing the students who really do need to learn to do school work in a consistent manner? (By the way, such penalties DO make the conscientious students in your classes even more anxious.)

    A friend’s son got behind in passing in work. The teacher didn’t tell the parents until the parent conference, about 3 months into the behavior. IIRC, the student was in late elementary school. When the father asked why the teacher hadn’t contacted them at an earlier date, the teacher had no answer. The father transferred his son, mid-year, to a new charter school. At that school, students who didn’t arrive with completed homework were required to stay after school until the previous day’s assignment was completed. The behavior stopped.

    In my opinion, immediate consequences of that nature are more effective than reducing the grade on a late assignment. The former gets students’ attention, while the latter is too abstract for most. Late penalties don’t change adults’ behavior, for heaven’s sake–just think of the millions of adults who choose to run a balance on their credit cards. Banks depend upon adults not complying with a payment deadline.

  18. “In my opinion, immediate consequences of that nature are more effective than reducing the grade on a late assignment.”

    Very true, and this especially works well in schools that have a system wide system for handling the issue as opposed to ad hoc policies put in place by each teacher.

    I’ve often used a short quiz at the beginning of class as a way to let student demonstrate understanding without penalizing for not doing homework. I assign homework at the end of class, usually practice over what we learned in class, and then there is a short quiz a the beginning of next class that covers the same material. Students can determine if they need to work on the homework to sharpen their skills or they can skip the homework. I often give out the answers with the homework as well. This works well for math and science classes.

  19. My late work policy is that anything my be turned in day late for 50% credit. After a day, no credit.

    And it’s al done for teacher convenience.

    I even insist that students write their names on their papers–for the sake of teacher convenience.

    Back to my late work policy.

    Before I had one, I’d get excuses. Some fictional. Some true. “My dad set the dog on fire and the cops were called and I didn’t get to sleep until 5 AM because the detectives had a lot of questions….”

    My late policy, for my convenience is so I don’t have to sort fact from fiction. It’s half credit if your grandmother died, or if she didn’t die, if you had a headache, or if you forgot. I don’t care. It’s half credit. Good for one day only.

    It’s better for my students if they have a teacher who is teaching rather than listening to excuses.

    What’s convenient for me turns out to be beneficial for them.

  20. Exhibit A on the list of teachers who confuse grading with a morality play.

  21. Michael E. Lopez says:

    Cal Saith:


    “Demonstrated skill level” is ability, except in the situations where the teacher’s policies use a non-academic constraint (like not accepting late work) to prevent demonstration. Students can only demonstrate the skill level if they do their work on time, and if they didn’t do their work on time, well, then, they lost their chance to demonstrate their skill.

    And hence their demonstrated skill level is zero.

    Look — you don’t get to turn in assignments after you graduate, after all, or even (usually) after the semester ends and grades are due.

    Why should you get to turn it in after the assignment is due? Should students just get to turn ALL their work in ten minutes before the teacher has to file his or her grades with the front office?

    Of course not. A group of students that did this would receive F’s, and rightly so, because they missed their chance to demonstrate their skill level.

    And why would they have missed their chance? Because teacher convenience matters, and administrative convenience matters.

    We can quibble over how much it should matter, or if some sort of other sanction like expulsion or caning or detention is appropriate for late work, but there should be some sort of penalty, and the reason is teacher convenience.

    Now Cranberry has a point: teachers shouldn’t schedule willy-nilly. School is supposed to be practice, after all, and things like deadlines should be established with pedagogical aims in mind. But the rest of her argument seems to me better to support the proposition that school shouldn’t be compulsory rather than the proposition that deadlines should be enforced differently.

  22. Interesting discussion here, except that the morality argument is just rail thin (as I responded in the comments of the post). School is not about just subject matter competency, it’s about getting students the tools for success. I teach Seniors in high school. Giving them an illusion that deadlines are meaningless is denying them the tools for success.

    And the teacher convenience factor is also an interesting debate. I think the “it’s part of the job, just deal with it” argument is a lame attempt to avoid teacher issues of scarcity. Fine, I’ll accept late work, but when I’m taking the time grading it then I’m not writing that extra recommendation letter for that student that actually met the requirements of the assignment, like turning it in on time. I wouldn’t call it a teacher convenience issue, I’d call it a teacher efficiency issue.

  23. School is not about just subject matter competency, it’s about getting students the tools for success.

    Again, this is categorically untrue. You are substituting your own opinion for what is a documented requirement of assessment. Lord knows I’m not a big fan of ed school, but the assessment section of ed school requirements is devoted to this issue. Schools aren’t able to require teachers to change their grading mechanism, but teachers whose grades don’t denote ability are, in effect, lying.

    You can yammer on all you like about what else you think school is. You’re just wrong.

  24. “Again, this is categorically untrue. You are substituting your own opinion for what is a documented requirement of assessment.”

    I think the issue is that we as a society are not really sure what schools are for. Is it simply about academic ability or are there other things to be learned? I have no clue what the laws and resolutions of government say about what school is for; I just know that if you take any two people and sit them down and ask you will get different answers.

  25. First of all, using ed schools as the determinants of what education is or is not is amusing. I had a very good college and student teaching experience, and it still does not prepare one for the realities of teaching. But since you place them in such high regard, here are parts of the California Standards for the Teaching Profession that I could easily link to teaching students more than simple content retention.

    1.1 Using knowledge of students to engage them in learning
    As teachers develop, they may ask, “How do I…” or “Why do I…”

    • build trust with students and foster relationships so that students can thrive academically?

    1.3 Connecting subject matter to meaningful, real-life contexts
    As teachers develop, they may ask, “How do I…” or “Why do I…”
    • establish a connection between subject matter and purpose for learning?
    • make connections between the subject matter and real-life contexts?
    • engage all students in a variety of learning experiences that accommodate the different ways they learn?
    • provide opportunities for all students to acquire and practice skills in meaningful contexts?

    2.1 Promoting social development and responsibility within a caring community where each student is treated fairly and respectfully
    As teachers develop, they may ask, “How do I…” or “Why do I…”
    • model and promote fairness, equity, and respect in a classroom atmosphere that values all individuals and cultures?
    • develop students’ leadership skills and provide opportunities to apply them?
    • create a classroom culture where students feel a sense of responsibility to and for one another?
    • help students to appreciate their own identities and to view themselves as valued contributors to society?

    2.4 Creating a rigorous learning environment with high expectations and appropriate support for all students
    As teachers develop, they may ask, “How do I…” or “How might I…”
    • establish a productive, achievement-oriented climate in my classroom?
    • set high expectations for all of my students?
    • motivate all students to initiate their own learning and strive for challenging learning goals?
    • ensure access to challenging and diverse academic content for all students?

    2.5 Developing, communicating, and maintaining high standards for individual and group behavior
    As teachers develop, they may ask, “How do I…” or “Why do I…”
    • foster and support appropriate student behavior?
    • help all students learn to take responsibility for their own behavior and actions?

    2.6 Employing classroom routines, procedures, norms, and supports for positive behavior to ensure a climate in which all students can learn
    As teachers develop, they may ask, “How do I…” or “Why do I…”
    • develop daily schedules, timelines, classroom routines, and norms that maximize learning?

    2.7 Using instructional time to optimize learning
    As teachers develop, they may ask, “How do I…” or “Why do I…”
    • organize instruction to optimize learning time?
    • pace instruction to accomplish learning goals?
    • balance instructional, preparation, administrative, and managerial time?

    6.7 Demonstrating professional responsibility, integrity, and ethical conduct
    As teachers develop, they may ask, “How do I…” or “Why do I…”
    • remain informed of, understand, and uphold the professional codes, ethical responsibilities, and legal requirements applicable to the profession?
    • contribute to school and student success by being knowledgeable of learning goals, standards, and objectives established by relevant national, state, and local organizations and stakeholders?
    • extend my knowledge about my professional and legal responsibilities for students’ learning, behavior, and safety?
    • maintain professional conduct and integrity in the classroom and school community?
    • demonstrate my professional obligations to students, colleagues, school, and the profession?

    Sorry, but school is much more than subject matter assessment. And the assessment part of the Teaching Standards is exactly that, one part.

  26. Roger Sweeny says:

    Ed schools can say lots of things, but that doesn’t make any of them true.

    One of the things we try to measure is subject matter competency. But we mostly don’t. What we do measure is a student’s ability to tell us what we want to hear on a certain date during the course of the class. All of us know deep down (or not so deep down ) that a month later, and especially a year later, almost all of what we assessed will be forgotten.

    If our only goal were subject matter competency, most all of us would be terrible failures.

  27. I’m sort of surprised that many responses are “My policy is…”

    I’m surprised because every school I’ve taught in, and every district, has had a late work policy which provides time and consequences for late work, as well as requirements for teachers to provide intervention when it looks like a student is beginning to slide.

  28. Deadlines matter because assignments are sequential, not random. I assign something because I am trying to teach a skill. If the student doesn’t do the assignment, they’re behind getting to the next one, which usually relies somehow on the one that came before.

    Really, it’s that simple.

    Also, my assigments come fast and furious. If you are a few days late, you have double (sometimes triple) work to do. It gets very difficult to catch up.

    FWIW, my homework is essays and reading for the most part. If you don’t read, it’s hard to keep up with what I’m doing in class that day. If it’s a memorization thing, like grammar or vocab, and they get 100% on the assessment, then I’ll swap the zero for an exempt since they know it. That doesn’t happen as often as the kids would like. Most of the kids who play that game end up going back to doing the assignment because they get better grades on the assessment. Oops! THAT’S why I assigned it. Gee.

    I have plenty of habitual late assignment/tardy habitues who lose their first job over punctuality issues. That’s on them, not me.

  29. Late homework penalties punish boys. Earlier this week I watched my son get a zero for a homework assignment he completed, but left at home.

  30. Jill Bell says:

    Our district has the policy that we MUST accept late work (for homework) up until the day of the assessment for only a 20% penalty, So a kid has carte blanche to turn in some assignments up to 2-3 weeks late if they so desire. For many teachers it doubles or triples the amount of time it takes to grade papers.I also have ADD children at home and I have mixed feelings about all of this. My children would be failing if not given the opportunity to turn in late work, but at the same time I think they need to have consequences for not getting their act together. My oldest, a senior, just stayed up all night Monday night because he didn’t plan things out very well on several long term assignments. Some of his teachers were even gracious enough to allow him to turn in parts of a project late because he procrastinated. Not sure I really like that…

    As a math teacher I don’t take up homework until the end of the chapter anyway, so my kids have no excuse. They have the flexibility to plan their math homework around other big assignments. That’s the way life is – prioritizing. The only thing is, many of these kids are in for a very rude awakening when they go off to college and their professors don’t automatically give them extra time to do assignments.

  31. Going to split the difference here. Agree with LS on why assignments should be in on time. But in the early grades (up to 7 or 8), I saw assignmentss that were so convoluted, had so many moving parts, and were so hard to tie to learning outcomes, that I felt terrible for the kids (mostly boys) whose executive function was not yet up to that level of emphasis on format and timing. They were pretty good on content, generally, but behind on switching gears. For some of those boys, it did not take much for them to come to believe that they were going to flub up on the homework end of things and to then give up on trying to meet all the standards for formatting and timeliness. Another bad feature of this way of handling assignments was that it forces kids who want to be compliant into dependence on their parents for reminders and coaching. Not a good thing. So, I guess I come down on the side of “no late homework” with the proviso that the homework assignments have to be clear, consistent in format, and tied to the classroom content.

  32. Tim-10-ber says:

    Colleges give a zero for late work or missed assignments. Government high schools aka Mike coddle kids. Give high school kids a zero for a missed assignment. Give homework a ten percent weighting. No A without doing homework. Schools are to prepare kids for whatever comes next. Whatever comes next had zeros for late or missed work. It has deadlines that can costsomeone their job. Teachers do yours and hold all of your students accountable. Stop babying them. For your sake and outs- stop it. The students must learn their actions have consequences. Many teachers never teach this thereby not earning the respect of tbe students, not teaching and wasting my taxpayer dollars. I agree with Coach Brown. I am a parent and teach this to my kids. I expect my kids teachers to do the same not least than I am trying to do. Please!

  33. I started this year with a policy that I will accept late work all the way up to the last week of the quarter, with no penalty.

    The A students all turned in their work ontime.

    The B students turned in all of their work, usually ontime.

    Half of the C students did most of their work ontime, but the other half turned in significant amounts of work the last two weeks.

    Most of the D students turned in most of their work the last two weeks.

    I still had a significant number of kids turn in little or no work, and get an F.

  34. Cranberry says:

    ^^It would be nice to make it predictable, too. In college, many professors, even back before word processors, would hand out a course syllabus. It is much easier for students (and families!) to plan ahead if they receive advance warning of the work load for the semester. Perhaps this practice starts in college because students have the luxury of an add/drop period at the start of a semester?

    I have plenty of habitual late assignment/tardy habitues who lose their first job over punctuality issues. That’s on them, not me.

    Yes, of course. Does anyone really think that deducting points from late assignments will change a student’s habits and character? It may give the pleasing _feeling_ of having done something to punish bad character, but I don’t believe that it can be transformative. At best, a worried parent may step in to manage the student’s academic life, but that’s a very bad precedent to set. It may explain why so many parents are helicopter parents these days. The schools have been training them to run their children’s lives

  35. Michael E. Lopez says:

    Cranberry might have a point, but it’s not that students can’t change. It’s that a letter grade or two deduction quite possibly isn’t going to change the character of many students.

    Nevertheless, people can change their habits (and with it their character). And they generally do, if something really bad happens, like getting fired for going out for coffee before the reports are filed because you think it’s all taken care of even though you haven’t received confirmation yet. Or getting demoted (and having everyone in the office know about it) because you didn’t proofread the briefs that went out to the client.

    When that happens to someone, when the s#!+storm hits because they screwed up and it all rains down on them, when that happens there’s a high probability that the poor person will never make that mistake again.

    If you’re serious about teaching the practical lesson (let’s not call it a moral lesson, even though punctuality is tied somewhat to respect) that things need to be turned in on time, the stakes probably need to be higher, or at least different, because a lot of students just don’t care about the thing with which you’re punishing them.

    In my experience, enforcing grade penalties over even five minutes of tardiness (yes, I’m that much of a stickler for full-blown paper deadlines; less for short written assignments) has a remarkable effect on students who care about their grade. They quickly learn the lesson that punctuality matters because they care about the penalty.

    Switching gears, now, part of the difficulty with doing this at the high school level is that a late penalty is about responsibility, and it’s difficult to hold someone responsible when they don’t have any autonomous power in their lives. In general (although I think this has gotten more acute in recent years; I had a great deal of autonomy as a high school student, a fact for which I’m immensely grateful) a high school student is somewhat at the mercy of his or her parents. You maybe shouldn’t enforce a hard 9am deadline for a paper because the kid might have to rely on his mom to get to school.

    You can tell the student, “Look, this is YOUR responsibility. Do whatever you have to — run in your bathrobe across town if you must — but get this to school by 9am.” That’s what the working world is like; you come up with solutions to your problems or you fail. But telling this to a student doesn’t alter his fundamental living situation, doesn’t alter the fact that many parents are reluctant — hideously reluctant — to let even college students stand on their own two feet and fail at something.

    There’s also the matter of school being a sort of training, a sort of practice. Many parents would not let a student run across town in their PJ’s to turn in a paper on time. They’d say, “Oh, it’s just a paper. It doesn’t matter. Sit down and eat your breakfast and I’ll drive you in. We’ll be a minute or two late, though — I have to stop at the dry cleaners on the way.”

    And from an adult perspective they’re right — it’s just a paper — but the student isn’t an adult, and isn’t getting a chance to practice the sort of things that will make him a better adult. If you were ever in basic training, you might remember having to make your bed in a very precise way. Do any recruits ever say, “Oh screw it. It’s just a bed. It doesn’t really matter.” ???

    Well sure. But they only say it once.

  36. “Speak with other teachers in the grade, to learn about the schedule of tests and projects your students face overall. Some teachers are notorious for assigning very large, ambitious projects, at the same time other teachers are also assigning large, ambitious projects, or finals which make up 50% of the grade.”

    Why is this the teacher’s responsibility? I believe it is the responsibility of the student when the conflicting project/paper is first assigned to formally request an extension or change in the due date. In the workplace, if I have conflicting deadlines, it’s my responsibility to go to my supervisor and resolve the issue.

    The problem with today’s students is that they get coddled so much that they never learn to take the initiative for themselves.

  37. Cranberry says:

    Crimson Wife, from your website, it seems you home school your children. Thus, your children have only one teacher. As parent and teacher are one, there won’t be a conflict between family demands and school demands.

    It’s the teacher’s responsibility because they set the schedule. They also determine the work groups–many larger projects are comprised of groups of students. (By the way, you do NOT want to be assigned a group which includes travel-team athletes, as it’s hard to coordinate work with someone who’s out of state on weekends.)

    In our children’s public school, some teachers didn’t seem to keep a record of what they had assigned, as they decided it on the fly, depending on how the day’s class had gone. Good luck trying to ask for a teacher that disorganized to tell you what he (she) will assign in two weeks. If he isn’t able to give you an assignment you missed for the flu, because it depended upon the class’s in-class progress, and he didn’t keep accurate records, he won’t be able to predict when he’ll assign, or collect the larger assignments.

    The problem with today’s students is that they get coddled so much that they never learn to take the initiative for themselves.

    That depends upon the school. That’s why it’s worthwhile to talk about policies. Relying too much upon homework for a grade tends to tempt parents to meddle. IIRC, the British have found that removing “coursework,” i.e., as I understand it, homework, from the grading for GCSEs improved boys’ performance. (http://www.independent.co.uk/news/education/education-news/coursework-assessment-to-end-in-gcse-shakeup-2140296.html)

  38. So has everyone else. Homework counting as part of the grade advantages girls and Asians. It disadvantages boys and URMs–and whites, in comparison to Asians.

  39. And Gahrie, I flatly don’t believe your stats. I believe that in the main, the A students turned in their work on time, and so on. But if you don’t have kids who routinely turn their work in on time but don’t understand what they’ve done, and kids who can do excellent work but don’t bother to do their homework, then you are either overexaggerating or you are in a ruthlessly tracked class. Both groups exist and are well-established in the literature. So if your classes are always lacking these kids, then there’s something wrong somewhere–or your A students are determined by whether or not they do their homework.

  40. North of 49th says:

    My district does not allow homework to count towards the student’s grade; only work done in school can be used. This includes classwork, tests, group work, oral presentations, participation, etc.

    Homework is evaluated as one of the “learning skills” (including initiative, self-regulation, problem-solving et alia) reported on separately. A major reason for disallowing homework or work completed at home for grades is that we can’t tell who did the work.

    There are pros and cons to this policy but it does take the wind out of the sails of parents who insist that little Jason is a rising star (because of his superior project work, all done at home) who yet cannot write a coherent sentence in class. We provide study halls and homework clubs for students who need out of class time and school resources to complete work. The majority of students in the district are from low-income families.

Trackbacks

  1. Late credit…

    Uber edu-blogger Joanne Jacobs had a post up last week about giving — or not giving — a penalty for late work in school. She quotes two other edu-bloggers, pro and con. What caught my eye more than anything, however,……