Grade the work, not the behavior

Grade the Work, Not the Behavior, writes Cindi Rigsbee on Education Week Teacher, hitting a topic that Cal has raised in the comments. A middle-school English teacher, Rigsbee no longer gives a zero for cheating, she explains.

I now respond by reassigning the work or re-administering the test by making it different and, if possible, more rigorous. For example, what was at first a multiple-choice quiz may become an essay when I retest the student. Yes, it’s more time-consuming than ripping up the original work and giving a zero — but it’s worth it to me to actually be able to assess whether or not my students have met my learning goals. I can’t determine that if they never do the work.

When students aren’t doing homework, she calls them to her desk for a “grade conference,” and lets them make up late assignments — up to a point.

My mantra of “I just want them to do the work” has to be balanced with “I can’t grade 97 late assignments, some from the first week of the grading period, the night before my grades are due.” Determining how much late work to accept is, of course, a personal choice driven by individual teaching philosophies (and in some cases, schoolwide policies). But it is important that makeup work requirements are communicated early and often to students and parents.

She also takes away privileges, such as eating lunch with friends, if students fail to complete their work. “After all, who wants to sit with me, completing work that should’ve been done three days ago, when they could be solving middle school dramas with their friends?”  Her philosophy is “harass till they pass.”

Rigsbee also warns students that other teachers may not give  them a second chance and that cheating in college or work will have dire consequences.

This sounds like more work for the teacher. Is it worth it?


About Joanne