CBE Problems of Practice: Late Work

October 29, 2018 by

This is the sixth in a series on problems of practice. (Check out the articles on gradingattendancepace, individualized learning, and granularity.) We are interested in hearing from readers about other problems of practice they’ve seen or are struggling with in implementation.

6. Removing all consequences for late work. Much like the issue of attendance, learning what level and amount of effort is required to complete something and time management are important aspects of learning. Some schools have jumped to removing all consequences for late work, thereby supporting the idea that it isn’t important to be timely. This is a misstep in implementation that has placed unacceptable levels of burden on teachers who receive all assignments at the end of the year. Again, as schools separate out behaviors from grading academic progress, it is important to replace it with something else. Habits of success such as time management and lifelong learning skills such as self-regulation are critically important for academic success. These need to be emphasized and reflected upon in terms of their impact on student progress.

Districts that lead the transition process at the high school level face the additional challenge that students have been trained to be compliant and depend on extrinsic motivation and consequences such as marking down grades if late. Students will need very intensive support to learn the skills needed for owning and taking responsibility for their learning. This doesn’t just happen by removing consequences. It takes a proactive strategy.

Getting Implementation Right: Build the foundation for supporting the development of habits of success and lifelong learning skills. Consider starting in middle or elementary school rather than waiting for high school. Make sure that students understand that assignments are a combination of learning, practice, and opportunities for assessment and feedback. Develop consequences that are highly linked to the cycle of learning if work is late. For example, students are unable to participate in summative assessments before assignments demonstrating proficiency are turned in. Or late work triggers coming in after school, or not attending co-curricular activities, or mandatory guided study halls to ensure they have the time to complete their work.

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