A hat tip to Tom Schimmer for his inspirational post, “Enough with the Late Penalties!“
“… 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…
… Here is my position: Students should be graded on the quality of their work (their ability to meet the desired learning targets) rather than how punctual the assignment is. Here’s Why…” (Go read the whole post!)
I wrote the following in a comment on Tom’s post, but I’d like to contribute more to it.
I’m a principal now, but I wrote this when I was a teacher:
“As a teacher, I don’t take any marks off for something coming in late. It is my job to make sure that students demonstrate their learning and meet the learning outcomes during the year. All time lines within the year are arbitrary (and usually teacher determined) and not a requirement worthy of penalty. Exceptions may be made where either Personal Planning or Goal Setting are part of the outcomes.”
~ That’s from Footnote 1 on this post: Edupunk or Educational Leader?
Here is a bit more I’d like to add:
I used to surprise kids when they would come to me for an extension and I’d say to them, “OK, how much more time do you need?”
They would usually respond with ‘Tomorrow’ and I’d say, “Are you sure? How about you take one more day and make sure it’s your best work?”
If 2 days later, I didn’t think they tried hard enough, we sat down and discussed how they could have improved it, which often led to another extension. If there was a second time we had to go through this, seldom was their ‘late’ work needing another consultation… outcomes achieved, lesson learned… and no marks off.
I remember one specific time when I gave ‘Student A’ an extension, and ‘Student B’ said, “No fair, he gets more time.” So, I went to the hand-in pile, took out Student B’s work and said, ‘How much time do you need?’ The offer wasn’t taken, but the opportunity was there.
When kids aren’t prepared for a group presentation, well then to me that’s where the lessons are learned as per Tony Celini’s comment on Tom’s post about the value of deadlines. There are times and places for the “Deadlines Matter” lesson to be taught, but in the grand scheme of things that’s not a lesson we need to teach with every assignment.
Truth be told, I was a master of getting extensions-with-no-marks-off all the way through university, (as mentioned with a few other confessions in my Edupunk post). I even escaped marks off in a course where the professor’s first 40 minute lesson was punctuated repeatedly with “10% daily penalties for everything late without a doctor’s note or for compassionate reasons through the official process only” – I handed something in on the Tuesday after it was due on the previous Friday and got “No marks off for honesty” written on the top of the page as I handed it in. I was that good. However, (and this is a key point), as an adult ‘in the real world’, I think I’ve done a pretty good job meeting deadlines.
So we don’t ‘need’ to take marks off assignments to teach kids a lesson… but if that isn’t reason enough, how about the fact that ‘lateness’ isn’t the criteria we are trying to measure!
Here is a Comparative Civilizations 12 Learning Outcome:
It is expected that students will:
Communicate their knowledge and understanding about civilizations by using effective written, oral, and graphic communication skill
Where is the ‘late penalty clause’? I don’t see it. And if you take marks off for it being late, well then what does that mark tell you? How does it inform you of the student’s understanding? Learning Outcomes don’t come with teacher timelines only semester timelines.
On a slightly different note, why even give a mark? What does 62% tell you about a student’s ability to communicate their knowledge and understanding? But then that’s a whole other topic. See Joe Bower’s Grading Moratorium!
If a kid hands a resume and job application form in late for a Career and Planning course assignment, then I think there is just cause for marks off, and this might be one example of where a big fat ‘zero’ might actually be meaningful. But in the end, most marks off for lateness are simply ‘off the mark’ because they do not tell you anything about the progress of the child and their learning in the class you are teaching them in.
Thanks again for the thought-provoking post Tom!