Wednesday, March 2, 2011

Managing the Paper Mess: My late work policy

I have always struggled with how to assess late work.  There seem to be a few different theories.

My policy (until recently) was that I would take late work until the end of the quarter, but it would only be for 50% credit.  This was deflating a lot of my peanuts' grades beyond repair so I knew I needed a new policy.

After some great chats with some great teachers on Twitter (specifically @ and @) I was pointed to a fabulous blog post by @ detailing his abhorrence of late penalties.  Basically, he feels
 Late Penalties lead to inaccuracy, which leads to deflated grades, which distorts the students’ achievement; their true ability to meet the intended learning outcomes.  In most jurisdictions (if not all) grades are supposed to reflect the student’s ability to meet the intended learning outcomes of the course they are enrolled in. In my 20 years I have never seen a curriculum guide that had “handing in work on time” as a learning intention.  It’s possible that one exists, I've just never seen it. 
So here is my new and improved policy.

  • I'll take your late work until the week before grades are due without penalty to the assignment.  
  • There is one assignment in my grade book for "timeliness".  If you hand in an assignment late, I will remove points from this assignment (1 point per day).
  • I drop the lowest assignment at the end of the term.  If that ends up being your late work assignment, late work will not artificially deflate your grade, but timeliness has the potential to allow you to bomb one assignment without negative effects.
Did I miss any glaring problems with this new policy?  I would love feedback on the new policy as well as other ideas for what teachers do!  


  1. I think your new policy is fair, and helps make the focus of grading on actual work.

    A lot of my homework is part of a project, broken down into meaningful chunks with feedback built in, so doing it at the end of the quarter makes it meaningless. I recently stopped accepting late work for credit (except for students who were out sick), and suddenly virtually all the work is now handed in on time. (But I have motivated parents - this wouldn't work in all cases.)

  2. Fran
    I think your observation about the impact of motivated parents is a good one. My students are very at risk with little to no support from home. The importance of parents cannot be overstated! Thanks for your comment.

  3. my district says we have to take it at any point. If they want to make up work from the 1st quarter, I have to give it to them, grade it and then change the report card grade. So my hands are tied.