Points

It is that time of year again at our school where we are calculating grades. It is the end of the school year, and I am getting slammed with kids turning in their work from the last semester, most all of it is what most teachers would call “late”. We had a good conversation in our staff meeting earlier in the year about late work, with some teachers adamant that late work is unacceptable and “I will not allow it” or “I only give half points” and others of us on the other side of the fence who figure not taking late work leaves us with two options; flunking most of the students, or taking really poor work. Now I know taking late work helps kids to procrastinate. But as a major league procrastinator, I think there are worse things in life. And I am really tired of failing so many kids.

I decided this year that I will take work up until the time I have to turn the grades in, but I will not accept work that does not meet a minimum level of quality. Instead of giving a ‘D’ or ‘F’ I would give a do-over. You either do it right, or do it over. I also decided to not do one assignment is the same as not doing any assignments. One zero in the grade book is the same as all zeros in the grade book.

The kids pushed back pretty hard at first. The conversation would go like this:

“Just give me enough points for a D”

“Points are for soccer games. Just do it over correctly” I would respond.

“What if I don’t? I did something. Doesn’t that count? Just give me half the points”

“Nope. Fix it and it’ll count.”

“No really, what if I don’t. What will my grade be?”

“An F.”

“So what if I fix it? What will my grade be?”

“An A. If you do it right, otherwise it’s still an F, till it is right.”

Hmmm.”

So now points really don’t matter. Either all of the work is there, to a certain standard, or it isn’t. Fewer students are failing (still, way too many are failing) and there are a lot more A’s. And points are left to the sports arena where they belong.

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