All In Good Time: Accepting Late Work From Students

Late work policy #1: Students are not allowed to submit late work! They will receive a zero on the missing assignment.


Late work policy #2: Students are allowed to submit late work however, they will lose 10% of the points for each day the assignment is late.


Late work policy #3: Students may submit late work up until the end of the grading period. No penalties!


All three types of policies exist in schools across the U.S.  When I first began teaching, my policy mimicked the second, not necessarily by choice, but because it was required by the school.  Since my first teaching job, I kept the policy in place, until recently.  I started to realize the flaws that exist with penalizing students academically for something so arbitrary.  Teachers typically make the argument that submitting assignments on time will teach students to be more responsible as adults.  Is that actually the case?

Not allowing students to submit late work teaches students that punctuality is more important than quality.  In my experience, students do the bare minimum to ensure they turn an assignment in on time.  Students focus on completing assignments on time rather than “how can I get quality learning out of completing this assignment completely?”  Allowing students to submit late work with no penalty places more value on learning rather than their grade or time.  There is no responsibility in submitting work on time if it is only subpar.  It is simply bad practice.  

When I offered my students the opportunity to submit late work without any penalties, I received twice the amount of missing assignments from students compared to our first quarter.  Students seemed more invested in the learning process and understanding the information for future reference.

Ask yourself, does your gradebook reflect the quality of learning that students are doing or how quickly they can complete their work? 

Share your thoughts on the topic below!