Late work policies vary among classes

Maddie Nusbaum and Gil Leifman

DCPS’s late work and retake grading policies have shifted in recent years, creating discrepancies among individual teachers’ grading systems. These inconsistencies are especially obvious at the end of term. 

The DCPS policy states that students have from the beginning of the advisory until the end to turn in work. If work is turned in late, teachers are supposed to give a maximum grade of an 86. Students must also have the opportunity to revise work if a teacher determines that their work is substandard.

While every teacher is required to adhere to these policies, a lack of specificity allows teachers to create their own grading and retake rules.

“The DCPS policy does not give specifics, so therefore teachers can infer or enact whatever of their choosing,” Science Department Chair Danielle Krafft said.

Krafft’s own policy involves giving a 75 percent for late work turned in after the unit/lesson has been taught and an informal or formal assessment has already been given. She noted that while the DCPS policy states awarding a maximum of 86 percent to late work, it does not say the minimum. 

Krafft commented on the large leniency of the DCPS policy towards late work behavior, noting that fellow teachers also display frustration over the set standard of mediocracy. 

“Lots of our students have been turning in the work after the assessments, after the pivotal point in the learning process, which doesn’t help their gains, and doesn’t help them to understand prior to [that] assessment,” Krafft said. 

As the science department chair, Krafft is also hoping to implement her late policy throughout the department, highlighting that other teachers are thinking of stricter policies like this, but not enacting them. 

“We are often given mixed messaging about what has to be followed and what are guidelines,” social studies teacher Aaron Besser said. 

“Part of it is that there’s not quite clear communication, I think that people are afraid to make a strong stance,” he said, remarking on the inconsistencies between teachers. 

Besser remarked on the increased discussions about equitable grading in recent years. During the virtual school year, the social studies department began reading a book titled ‘Grading for Equity’. The book was read during his L.E.A.P (Learning together to Advance our Practice) professional development meetings, by department, and by grade level teams. According to the DCPS website, the goal of the L.E.A.P professional development sessions is to “[help] teachers become truly expert at teaching the DCPS Common Core-aligned curriculum.”

Besser said that the book inspired his current teaching practices. “I don’t penalize late work because that’s punishing a behavior, not a student’s knowledge of the material.” 

Some students feel that in select classes, grades are not submitted with enough time for them to retake and revise that assignment, causing their grades to decrease.

Sophomore Isabella Mackaye wishes that policies were discussed among whole departments, and should be uniform for all teachers in said department. 

“If it’s going to be the standard for one it should be the standard for all,” Mackaye said. •