TWO VIEWS: Should Late Work Be Penalized?
March 5, 2022
As part of Frederick High’s commitment to grading with equity in mind, three new schoolwide policies were adopted: 1. Late assessments would be accepted by all teachers until a schoolwide semester cutoff day; 2. No assignment will be penalized just because it is late; and 3) Students get at least two tries to prove mastery when it comes to every assessment. Today, we’re looking at the first two policies–does allowing more late work help students catch up or just encourage procastination. Here are two views:
Don’t Penalize Late Work
As we all probably know, turning in work can be a difficult and annoying task to complete. Sometimes life gets in the way, procrastination happens, things are misunderstood, and things aren’t properly explained. Everyone’s been there. And everybody has turned things in late. But should it be punished? Well, most students don’t think so.
Junior Kyle Booker thinks one week is acceptable, “because if you’re gone all week you should have a week to do [whatever you missed] and if it’s late by more than a week you’re just not trying.” Kyle brings up a very good point. Most people could just be taking advantage of the system.
“I think it kind of depends on how late it is. If you’re turning in stuff from the beginning of the year at the end of the semester, then probably not,” says sophomore Sierra Sanchez.
Kids abusing the system has been a problem in the past here at Frederick. Lots of kids would wait until the very last week to do anything and it became too much for teachers to handle. English teacher Katy Kelly has tried many methods to help her students succeed in her class. “I have done both. I have accepted late work and not done a penalty, and accepted late work and then given a penalty. And what I have found with both methods is that the students who are going to turn in their work are going to turn in the work, and the students who aren’t, aren’t.” She brings up another very good point as well. Most students that don’t do their work, aren’t going to do it at all. “I would rather be equitable and build a relationship with a student and have them come to me and say ‘hey, something’s going on, I can’t get this, can I get an extension?’ rather than not turning it in at all.” Ms. Kelly still does take her students’ late work and she doesn’t penalize them for turning it in late. But there are certain dates past the original due date that she doesn’t allow work to be submitted.
Freshmen John Boeman and Cooper Boyce had quite a bit to say on this matter as well. John thinks that teachers should accept late work no matter what. “Maybe with a little repercussion, such as a 5% knock off or 10% knock off.” When asking him why, he said, “well, it’s a lot of work and I think you should have another chance at something.” Cooper said, “I feel that realistically we’re going to have deadlines for our careers and jobs, and not having them isn’t going to help us. But, sometimes it can be a lot of work and there should be some restrictions. Just not heavy.” John suggests a 10% reduction penalty if the assignment is submitted one week late, and a 20% penalty after two weeks.
With all this in mind, the majority of students agree that late work should be accepted with no penalty. Mistakes are also something that happens on the daily. So we need leniency.
Late Work Should Be Penalized
This year, Frederick’s grading policy changed. No longer are late assignments penalized. Most tests can be retaken an infinite amount of times. Some teachers even grade missing assignments with an automatic 50%. These new policies seem fine–in fact, they seem great. For students that don’t take school seriously, lazily complete their assignments, and don’t follow tight deadlines, the new policy will fit in seamlessly. In fact, it seems like that kind of behavior is encouraged with the new system. The problem is, why would Frederick want to promote that type of learning environment?
On paper, the new grading system seemed to be a positive change for FHS. Students’ mental health improved. The policy helped students ease back into in-person learning. Even teachers publicly endorsed it, praising its “equity” stance. But there are serious issues that are being overlooked.
For one, the new grading policy not only affects students, but teachers as well. Mrs. Bowes is a science teacher at Frederick, and she admits the new system has had its challenges. “To me, it hasn’t been helpful. It’s increased keeping track of students’ assignments.” Because the deadlines are effectively useless, students submit assignments at varying times, even if that means weeks after it’s due. That’s making it hard for teachers to keep track of all the grading.
The new late work policy has molded students into becoming lazier and laxer when it comes to submitting assignments. Benjamin Wiggington, a junior, agrees. “I feel like it just makes people lazy, knowing that they can turn [assignments] in later.” Yet, we can’t blame students for that behavior. If there is no incentive to submit the assignment on time, why would you?
There are other glaring issues, one of which is hypocritical. FHS has maintained the stance of preparing students for secondary schooling and careers. It’s no wonder the school offers 50+ college credits through AP classes and CU Succeed. On the FHS website, it even says, “our relationships foster a commitment to high expectations, rigor, and achievement in all pursuits.” For a school that prides itself on academic excellence and college preparation, it’s ironic that late work isn’t penalized, considering it actually lowers the expectations. “I don’t know if the new policy will be the best thing for people heading to college,” says Mrs. Bowes. “[When I went to grad school], a deadline was a deadline.”
Overall, the new late work policy should be redesigned. It won’t prepare students for their futures, where deadlines are tight and turning in things late results in consequences. Either that, or FHS should reevaluate its foundational values, and whether or not the school holds itself to the standards of “high expectations.”