Should Homework Be Counted Late?

homework

How should we be assessing student work?  Should timeliness, neatness, and following directions be part of the grade?  Should it be a separate grade?  Should it be counted at all?

My middle school, along with everyone else in education, is seriously debating this issue.  There are a variety of beliefs on the issue…and just as many books.  I am not sure where I stand.  I feel that each of the arguments has some validity to it.

About 10 years ago, my middle school (6-8) changed its teacher-by-teacher late work policy to a school-wide late policy.  While I am not necessarily sold on the late percentage, I have appreciated the consistency of the policy.  Parents know that from team to team and grade level to grade level, the policy is the same.

I am assuming that because of the intense debates regarding homework and grades, my school is changing back.  They have asked teachers to come to the table with an alternative to what is currently in place.  From what I understand, every teacher can have a different policy or grade levels can choose to offer consistency.

Because I am very unsure of what policy I should have, I have talked to other teachers, districts, and read books.

Some argue for no homework, hence removing a need for a late policy.  Some offer a a variety of percentages off.  Some take work all year long with no penalty.  Some take work for only a couple of days after the due date.

Some argue that due dates are necessary to teacher students about deadlines and timeliness.  Others state that we are imposing rules inappropriate for the age.  I think they are all right.  I have given late credit for years.  I thought I was teaching the importance of meeting deadlines, but didn’t realize that the final grade didn’t accurately reflect mastery of skills.

I am not sure that late work does teach students how to meet deadlines.  I think I was adamant about it because I thought it wasn’t fair to those students who turned their work in on time.  To be honest, I still have doubts about that.  In order to show parents about missed deadlines and the need for following directions, some teachers have recommended two separate scores:  one for mastery of skills and one for timeliness, neatness, etc.  I see that this system has potential.

To be honest, while I find the “no homework” policy intriguing, I need help understanding how it works.

What about those students who can’t finish in class because they work more slowly?  Is it homework for them?

What about passing back the work completed in class (after providing feedback)?  Can’t students who didn’t turn it in now copy it for full credit?  

I am open to any and all advice because my policy has to be in place before the end of this school year!  Fire away.  I am all ears!  🙂

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