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How to Grade Late Work Quickly

Accepting late work has been a topic of discussion on more than one occasion in staff meeting that I’ve been in over the years, and there are two camps on this issue.

Some teachers refuse to accept late work, because it’s not fair to those students who were responsible enough to turn in work on time, and it doesn’t teach students the valuable lesson of responsibility.

Other teachers feel that accepting late work is OK, because it doesn’t matter when the work is turned in, as along as they learn the information.

I always accepted late work. I never gave full credit, but I always accepted it. I outlined my reasons in this blog post. Feel free to read it if you’re interested in knowing why I allowed students to turn in their work late.

What I’ve heard from a few teachers was that if they were to allow students to turn in work late, then it would force them to take the time to grade work that is already past due.

Time is valuable, I know, so I wanted to share what I did when a student turned in an assignment late that didn’t take up too much time at all.

Let’s say that I gave an assignment to write a report on a particular topic. It was worth 100 points, and it was a large part of the student’s grade.

Let’s say that one particular student just didn’t do it. He/she chose to put it off until the last minute, and realized that there was little time before the due date, that he/she just didn’t turn it in. Three weeks later, he/she receives a progress report that shows he/she is getting a D, mainly because of the missing assignment. The student then spends the weekend working on that missing assignment, and he/she turns it in on Monday.

It’s three weeks late, but he/she comes to me and hands it to me.

I don’t want to read the project, because the time I budgeted for grading the assignment is over.

How do I grade the assignment?

Here’s what I did:

1. The most the student can earn is a C, since it’s so late. It wouldn’t be fair to the other students to give full credit after so much time has elapsed, so I look at the project and quickly scan the information.

2. If the project looks like the student worked hard on it, and produced quality information, then I would give it a C.

3. If the work is mediocre, it’s a D.

4. If it appears that the student just threw something together to get it finished, then I gave it an F.

I tell my students that an F is better than a 0, because with an F, they are still earning some points.

Doing this kept me from spending the time grading that I did with the other projects that were turned in on time.

Again, I could easily say, “Forget it. I won’t accept late work, especially three weeks late,” but as I said in my other post, the positive effect of getting a passing grade in a class will do more to make that student successful than will a tough lesson on responsibility.

Time is valuable, and any kind of time-saving technique I can employ will leave me more time to do what I enjoy doing most of all – Teach.

So there’s a quick tip that I’m sharing to hopefully save you a little time grading – especially late work.

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Until next week,

Here’s to great Success in the Classroom!



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