No more second chances: re-think the late work policy

Benjy Chait

Wilson’s late work policy dictates that teachers aren’t allowed to penalize students for turning in work past the due date. The policy was created to allow students more flexibility during distance learning. For this upcoming school year, Wilson should discard the late work policy because it indulges faulty work habits and creates more work for teachers.

The biggest problem with this policy is that with few hard deadlines, the late work policy allows students to heavily procrastinate. When there is no penalty for turning something in late, it’s really easy to put it off.  Students’ to-do lists build, and as the workload continues to mount, procrastinating can become self-sustaining. 

The more you procrastinate, the harder it is to stop, as stopping would require doing increasing amounts of work. This can cause stress and anxiety in students who stay suspended in a sort of “procrastination purgatory.” It can prevent students from being productive in future work, and lower quality of work as students rush to keep up. 

The culmination of this procrastination allows students to pick their poison: either a crazed rush to complete missing assignments in time for the end of the advisory or to allow zeros to become permanent in the gradebook. Both of these options create burdens for teachers. 

With the former, teachers are forced to grade an overwhelming volume of assignments within the week or so of the end of the advisory, instead of being able to space out grading. This can also affect quality of feedback, as teachers are often forced to choose quantity over quality.

With the latter choice, teachers are forced to take on helping the students through communication with parents, counselors, and the students. Teachers must either let their students fail (or settle for a worse grade) or spend lots of extra time working to help the student succeed. It’s not fair to force teachers into this position.

A much better solution to implement next year would be to find some compromise between a policy with no deadlines and a policy with strictly enforced ones. There should be some sort of penalty for turning in work late up to a set deadline. However, there should also be opportunities for feedback and corrections so that students can turn in work on time but have a chance to improve later. This would better the end of the advisory for both students and teachers, and prevent the vicious cycle of procrastination.

The transition to in-person learning this fall should be used as an opportunity to improve upon what we already have. One important step: rework the late work policy. •