Late work policy teaches students the wrong lessons

Isabelle Posner-Brown, Junior Editor

DCPS’s late work policy is flawed. Not only does it hinder students as they prepare for life beyond high school, it also creates an exhaustive workload for Jackson-Reed’s educators.

As written in the DCPS Secondary Grading and Reporting Policy, teachers are required to allow students to turn in late or makeup work through the end of the term. Late work due to unexcused absence or failure of completion is subject to a maximum grade of 86 percent. In addition, if a student has a WS (Waiting for Submission) in the gradebook it is 50 percent. If a student submits an assignment and receives an F, it is recorded as incomplete so that the student may revise the work at any time. 

The policy was created when DCPS was transitioning from virtual school. However, it has yet to be updated in accordance with voiced complaints. One particularly contentious issue is the leeway surrounding late/makeup work. Critics argue that the current policy encourages poor work ethic and procrastination. While the late work policy may have been designed to help students manage their workload, it becomes a major disadvantage as semesters end. This is not to say that there should be no grace period, but the lack of deadlines is unsustainable—not just for students, but also for teachers. Teachers are consistently left with the job of grading an enormous amount of work in an unrealistic period of time. 

Meanwhile, colleges are identifying the school systems with excessively generous grading policies and evaluating their students’ transcripts much more critically. The institution of semester grading and the elimination of final exams in Montgomery County public schools have made their students’ GPAs far less meaningful for college admissions officers. DCPS students could certainly face similar consequences.

It is important to understand that we are not advocating for the elimination of a grace period for late assignments. However, the numerous issues with the DCPS late work policy are becoming difficult to ignore. At this point in time, the late policy written in August 2021 needs to be updated to reflect current learning habits at Jackson-Reed. •