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How to Deal with Late Work and Make Up Work

Late Work and Make Up Work Policies

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Late work is a teacher housekeeping task that often causes a classroom management nightmare for teachers, especially for new educators who do not have a set policy in place or veteran teacher who have created a policy that just is not working. Further, students returning from excused or unexcused absences will need to complete make up work. Therefore, it is important that teachers create late work and make up work policies that they can follow consistently and with a minimum of effort. Anything less will result in confusion and further problems.

Things to Consider When Creating a Late Work and Make Up Work Policy

  1. Your school's current late work policies. Questions to ask:
    • Does my school have a set policy for teachers concerning late work? For example, there might be a schoolwide policy that teachers are to take off a letter grade for each day late.
    • What is my school's policy concerning time for make up work? Many school districts allow students two days to complete late work for each day they were out.
    • What is my school's policy for making up work when a student has an unexcused absence? Many do not allow students to make up work from unexcused absences.
  2. Decide how you want to handle collecting on time homework. Options to Consider:
    • Collecting homework at the door as they enter the class.
    • Having students have to turn homework in to a specific Homework Box by the bell to be considered on time.
    • Allowing students to turn in homework by the time you have completed taking role.
    • Having a stamp to put on homework that is turned in on time.
    • Collecting homework as you call roll.
  3. Will you accept partially completed homework? If so, then students can be considered on time even if they haven't completed their work. If not, this needs to be clearly explained to students.
  4. What type of penalty will you assign to late work? This is an important question because it will impact how you control late work. Many teachers choose to lower a student's grade by one letter for each day that it is late. If this is what you choose, then you will need to come up with a method for recording this to help you remember as you grade later that day. Possible ways to mark late work:
    • Have students write the date they turn in the homework on the top. This saves you time but could also lead to cheating.
    • You write the date the homework was turned in on the top as it is turned in. This will only work if you have a mechanism for students to turn in work directly to you each day.
    • If you wish to use a homework collection box, then you can mark the day each assignment was turned in on the paper when you grade each day. However, this requires daily maintenance on your part so that you don't get confused.
  5. How will you assign make up work to students who were absent? Possible ways to assign make up work:
    • Have an assignment book where you write down all classwork and homework along with a folder for copies of any worksheets/handouts. Students are responsible for checking the assignment book when they return and collecting the assignments. This requires you to be organized and to update the assignment book each day.
    • Set aside some time at the beginning or end of each class period to assign the work for the students. This is really not a good option because it requires you to take time away from instruction and the other students.
    • Only give makeup work before or after school. Students have to come see you when you are not teaching so that they can get the work. This can be hard for some students who do not have the time to come before or after depending on bus/ride schedules.
    • If you gave notes, either have a copy of them for the students who missed or you can have them copy them off of a friend. Each option has pros and cons. The first requires you to write down notes for lectures that might not have originally been written. The second means that students have to on their own time copy notes and they might not get all the information depending on the quality of the notes copied.
  6. How will you have students make up tests and/or quizzes that they missed whle they were absent? Most teachers require students to meet with them either before or after school. However, if there is an issue or concern with that, you might be able to have them come to your room during your planning period or lunch to try and complete the work.
  7. What about long term assignments (ones where students have two or more weeks to work on) that come due while a student is out? Make sure that you address this issue in the beginning of the year, especially if you are going to have a research paper or other long term assignment in your class. Most teachers make it a policy that if students are absent on the day a long term assignment is due that it must be turned in the day that student returns to school. Without this policy, you might find students who are trying to gain extra days by being absent.
If you do not have a consistent late work policy, your students will notice. Students who turn their work in on time will be upset and those who are consistently late will take advantage of you. The key to an effective late work and make up work policy is your daily enforcement. Once you pick what you want for you policy, then stick to it. Only by your consistent actions will this become one less worry in your school day. Here is an example of a late work policy that a teacher might hand out to students and parents at the beginning of the year. You can use this as a model once you answer each of the questions listed in this article.
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