Opinion: The new late work policy is flawed

MCHS’s new late work policy does not consider the many reasons a student may have trouble turning in work


Beth Brackmann

In January, a new school policy limiting late work suprised many students — and teachers. But the policy gets in the way of students who need the support the most.

Freedom Tomasello, Opinions Editor

At MCHS, the amount of late work turned in by students has steadily increased over the years. In an attempt to combat this problem, the administration has implemented a policy that requires students to turn in late work within a 7-day period, no longer allowing work to be accepted after this time. While this policy could be deemed an effective way to deter students from turning in late work, it has created a system that can be seen as unfair to students who genuinely need more time.

“We talked a lot about it with all of the admin and department chairs to clarify what the late work policy should be; before, we didn’t have guidelines around it. So people were turning in work at the end of the semester all the way from the beginning of the year, and by that point it’s kind of too late, so there has to be deadlines around things so that people learn responsibility,” says Jeff Prickett, principal of MCHS.

However, this policy does not take into account circumstances outside of a student’s control. The policy may be too harsh on students who have difficulty balancing their workloads and are unable to submit work on time. Many students at MCHS participate in many extracurricular activities or work after school, along with having plenty of other classes to worry about. They may not have time to finish all of their work at once. With that being said, it is important to consider the individual circumstances of each student when it comes to an academic policy.

Not only is the timeline for accepted work flawed, but the idea that not allowing students to turn in work after a specific amount of time will motivate them to do their work is unrealistic.  A student who does not want to do their homework in the first place is unlikely to care that they’re on a tight deadline. Teachers should be more focused on finding out why students lack the motivation to do the work rather than just creating more strict rules against them.

Ultimately, these policies fail to consider the root cause of why students don’t complete their work, whether that be because they just don’t want to or because they don’t understand the content. Many teachers have discovered grading policies that work for them and the way their classrooms run on their own, so it is unnecessary for the administration to step in and try to create a new policy that may not work for that classroom setting.

“I have always fallen into the camp that zeros should not be used to encourage students to get stuff done,” Kristian Hokinson, a math teacher at MCHS, states. “I will continue to encourage my students on a daily basis to turn in work, whether it is late or not. I can always then go back into the grade book and change the grades to completed. I will not be limiting them to only 7 days, though. I still want to acknowledge that students learn at different paces, and sometimes it might take more than 7 days for a student to be ready to make-up a missing assignment or assessment. I’d rather them take 2 weeks to make it up, but be ready enough that they will be successful and not just take it to ‘get it done.’” 

Although this policy may benefit some teachers who struggle with a copious amount of late assignments, it fails to recognize the root of the problem and likely won’t work as the admin intended it to in the long run.