A Texas School District Rethinks Grading Policy

A Texas School District Rethinks Grading Policy

A Texas school district is considering a new policy in which there are no late grades and giving opportunity for students to turn in assignments at any point in time.  Some believe that this will lead to a truer account of academic achievement; others worry that this will lead to laziness among students.

What are your thoughts?

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12 thoughts on “A Texas School District Rethinks Grading Policy

  1. I think that is going to make teacher’s lives hell. Like right before 6 week progress reports and finals some kid can just drop a month’s worth of work on your desk that you have to grade.

  2. If you read the FAQ for parents, it clearly states that you have to earn the right to retest. I think overall this will be a good thing. I see a lot of kids who create a situation where they can’t mathematically pass for the semester – not because they don’t know the material, but because they didn’t do the work. Grades should be a reflection of what you know, not how you act. Behavioral problems should not be punished with bad grades. If you aren’t turning work in, that’s a behavioral problem, and that should be dealt with separately.

  3. The real world has a lot less to do with how smart someone actually is and a lot more to do with how well a person is able to manage their environment. Can they problem solve? Can they meet deadlines? Can they work hard to achieve clearly stated goals? This change does not reflect the real world. Not to mention adolescents at this age are often not intrinsically motivated to do well in school, they don’t know or believe that it will actually affect them in the future. This is a part of the job of a teacher – to politely force students to do things they don’t feel like doing. This is like asking a child to go get their immunization shots because if they were smart, they’d know it’s good for them. Completely unrealistic.

    • I absolutely agree that this change sets students up for failure in the real world. It’s a nice idea to give students all the time they individually need to do their assignments and show us what they truly know. However, this is not usually how the rest of the world works. If a paramedic, for example, took as much time as he/she felt he/she needed to treat a patient, that patient could possibly die because emergencies don’t allow for that kind of time. If a person takes his/her time paying bills, they risk eviction; no landlord or bank will sit around that long waiting for payment. Extreme examples, I know, but it just shows how there are definitive deadlines people face every day that students need to practice if they’re going to live comfortably in the world beyond school.

      Finally, we are only given so many days, so many instructional minutes to cover so much material. Students who don’t finish their work in a timely manner just end up with unfinished assignment after unfinished assignment. It snowballs and they give up because they can’t dig themselves out from under all that half-finished work. They then have a hard time learning anything new because they still haven’t finished learning previous skills and information.

      I usually let students turn in late work, but for no more than a 70% grade to make it fair to the others who turned it in on time. I also give them two late passes each quarter, so they can strategize and use them on bigger assignments if needed. It seems to work pretty well; the kids really take ownership then.

  4. I already accept work late. I hold frequent student-teacher conferences throughout the grading period. I plan on having extra paper to grade for the next few days after the conference. It’s a bit more work on my part, but it gives the kids a realistic shot at passing. It also prevents the students from becoming so disengaged and hopeless that they cause major behavior problems.

  5. I accept late work when I believe it is justified… but rest assured that getting work done and turning it in on time is just as important as learning the material. Until students are held responsible for their work (and their behavior *shocker*) the nation will continue to slide into mediocrity.

  6. As a pre-service middle school teacher, I do not see this working well with students. I do not think that middle school students have had enough practice planning yet for them not to pile too many homework assignments on themselves before the due date. I believe that it is a middle school teacher’s job to teach students how to plan and be accountable so that when they go to college or enter into the workforce they are responsible individuals. I plan on doing this partially by having due dates and holding my students accountable!

  7. My district did this 3 years ago and it was a HUGE problem. All the bad things that you can imagine happened. The policy was changed last year, so kids now get two late work passes per semester, but there is still a lot of damage control.

    As for the retesting, that was also an issue. Kids wouldn’t study for tests, tell teachers they would just do the retake (and yes, the teachers had to create extra assignments for the kids to do to earn the privilage of the retake).

    Ultimately, kids would blow off the work for months on end, and then find themselves scrambling at the end of the semester. The problem being that bc they didn’t do the work all semester they lacked the skills to do it at a proficient level. HUGE number of kids failing. Also we saw an across the board drop in our AP scores.

  8. As a teacher who has had two different type of late work policies, I can say that accepting late work at any time is a teacher’s nightmare. I used to accept it as long as it was within the 6-week grading period, and (shocker) I would get students turning in 5-week-old work all of the time. It was ridiculous. I was a brand new teacher and had the same ideology as this Texas district–that grades should reflect what the students know. But school life should also reflect the real world. There are deadlines, and we need to get things done in a timely manner to show that we are responsible and employable. I can create great, rigorous, and fun lesson plans if you give me six weeks, but I don’t get six weeks. I have to create them in one night sometimes, because if I don’t have them ready the next day, I fail my “clients” and my boss. If my principal walks in and she sees my kids watching a movie, she’s not going to care that I can show her what my lesson plan would have been if she just gives me one more day to create it. We need to prove what we know and what we can do within a given time period.

    And by that same “reflecting what we really know” token, I’d like to point out that usually the students who turn in their substantive assignments much later (like essays or longer assignments) do it because I ask them to come in at lunch and help them through every step of the way. This isn’t really reflecting what they know. This is reflecting what they can do with a teacher by their side throughout the whole assignment. Those aren’t realistic conditions when you have 30-35 kids in your class.

    Also, I’ve tried to “force” students to do work in the past, and then I lose weeks worth of my lunches. I’m a compassionate teacher and human being, but I also have my rights. I shouldn’t have to spend my free time forcing a child to care about his or her grade. Yes, grades and behavior are too separate things, but in the end, the teachers have more work either way. When you look at the logistics of this policy, it’s not fair for teachers.

  9. I use this policy, to some degree. I allow late work but within reason. If the student has a reasonable explanation, and isn’t a chronic abuser, I allow late work to come in within a certain timeline. We are teaching ‘standards’; hence, their grade should reflect a measurement of the standard….not timliness.
    There needs to be a structure set and expectations to have the classroom to run smoothly. I don’t deduct points for late work. Their grade reflects their achievement. I have found minimal abuse. Most abuse occurs with quizzes, so I no longer allow do overs.
    I believe it’s like most things in life, we need to find a happy medium ;-)

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