Saturday, June 12, 2010

Late marks are egg management fees

What does this say about deducting marks for late assignments?

And before we say that it teaches kids a lesson in responsibility and accountability, look at that kids face in the commercial. Look at any kid's reaction to being punished by late marks. They learn only one thing - and this is to feel cheated.

And we wonder why they don't like us?


  1. It amazes me how many of us expect a perfectionism from children that we would never expect from other adults, or ourselves. I've known of parents and teachers to freak out over one or two late or missing math homework assignments when there's one due every day. For a 9-yr-old. Really? And they've NEVER gotten anything in late to a boss in their lives?

  2. I think there's a balance that can be had. In my son's school, some assignments (minotiry) have a hard deadline and others can be completed at student's pace. You want to talk about teaching responsibility? Have the student manage themselves by using flexible timelines. That's real world experience.

  3. "Teaching prepares for the real world," right. The world is far more forgiving than we portray to children. Business seek extensions all the time. Management extends deadlines all the time. I could go on. There are obvious reasons to maintain deadlines and people need to build the practice into their work ethic. Deadlines are rarely critical and often artificial. Often the rush to meet a deadline results in substandard work. Do we want to extend the contractors deadline on our house construction or do we want to accept the shoddy result of their meeting the deadline without penalty?

  4. @Cheryl: you have an excellent point. I have seen far too many teachers expect something from kids that they would never accept being expected of them.

    @Mike: I'm not sure if there is a balance to be struck with grading. There is no good reason to grade in the first place so I'm not sure how or why we should strike a compromise.

    @Alan: Deadlines are rarely truly drop dead deadlines - most of the time they are fabricated and need to be flexible. Quality should always trump the deadline.

  5. I think hard deadlines are only necessary in mass-produced, graded "education". In those cases, it's a convenience for the teacher, so they can grade everything at once, and for students, so they've learned enough to participate in the next one-size-fits-all activity or non-recorded lecture.

    There are plenty of schools that do without hard deadlines. These alternative schools abandon grades and often work with students and parents to make individual learning plans instead. Each student's plan is regularly revisited and modified when appropriate. Then instead of feeling betrayed, ignored, or powerless, students feel a greater connection and control over their learning, and empowered to produce a great portfolio to demonstrate what they know.

  6. Sometimes due dates (note, not "deadlines") are carefully structured to pace out the work so that it is not all left to the last minute. In this case, missed due dates implies the student is falling behind, and a discussion with the student will help with the required time management.
    Sometimes, however, despite our best efforts, students equate no late "penalty" as permission for indefinite procrastination.
    Automatic, punative deductions for lates is unduly harsh. Discussed arrangements for a new timeline with an agreement provides students with ownership and responsibility for timely completion.
    Of course, if the learning process is free of busy-work, and marking (grading) is abolished altogether, then it becomes a moot point.

  7. @ed.hitchcock Love how you put this! I agree. I have experienced students using flexible deadlines as an excuse to piddle and not get much accomplished in the allotted time frame.

    Totally agree with the need to be flexible about it, though.

    Two of my students picked out the same literature circle project. We all decided it could reasonably be done in a week. One girl completed hers in a week and got the highest score in class. Another girl in the group took an additional two weeks and just barely met the acceptable mark.

  8. I've definitely struggled with the fallout of removing late penalties from student work. Because I'm the only teacher in my school that does not penalize lateness, my work is often prioritized below that of other teachers.

    This is really frustrating because my deadlines are often for a very real world reason, not just a hoop. For example, having a draft ready for peer revision; presentations to an audience of parents, peers and scientists; sending off poster layouts to a local college for printing by a graduate student.

    I fully realize that late penalties aren't the answer as a system but how do I operate as the only teacher who is not assessing them?

  9. @Tyler: If I may, I think you mean "the only teacher who is not *grading* them?"

    While I do not know your specific teaching practices, I would wager that you do assess students, but by the sounds of it you are trying to no longer grade them.

    This is an important distinction - people who are skeptical of gradeless learning make the misassumption that no grading means no assessment when in fact, no grading allows for far more authentic and purposeful assessment.

  10. @Tyler: this sounds like a beautiful group discussion. Speak openly and honestly with your students about this. My only rule with students is that we don't use teachers names when we speak of these kinds of topics.

  11. Combining this topic with Joe's post about awards, if students are made responsible for identifying what *they* have accomplished, then there is incentive to a) complete the work, and b) do a good job of it.


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