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McKayla Joaquim

Late Policies and Student Achievement

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Grading policies have almost always been a point of contention in discussions of pedagogical approaches in classrooms. However, the COVID-19 pandemic has heightened those discussions. More specifically, whether educators should penalize student work that is turned in late is a common debate. Late penalties are generally used with the intention of getting students to get their work done on time, so they are prepared and able to be successful in the professional world. As put by Joe Feldman (2019), “[w]e believe we’re teaching students responsibility, the meaning of deadlines, and of being fair” (p. 115). However, recent research is arguing that applying late penalties to student work is not an accurate representation of students’ abilities (Feldman, 2019, p. 115).

With this in mind, I wanted to know, how can amending late work policies in the classroom improve student grades? I also wanted to know how does amending late work policies in the classroom reflect student’s actual understanding and mastery of the content rather than a reflection of the lateness of assignments?

This study examined the relationship between late-work policies and student achievement. In an attempt to improve student achievement, I extended the late-work policy so that students could submit work up to three weeks late, with a maximum deduction of 30%, rather than 3 days late. Student final grades for quarters 1, 2 and 3 were collected as well as the total number assignments per quarter, and the number of assignments submitted late, and the number of assignments never turned in for a group of students. Despite anticipating a decrease in the number of assignments that were never turned in, an increase in the number of assignments submitted late and higher quarter 3 grades, findings showed more of an increase in assignments never turned in, more of an increase in late assignments turned in, and finally just over half of students having a lower quarter 3 grade.

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