When I was a teacher, I gave my students more than one chance to turn in late assignments. They would lose points, but I felt that my ultimate goal as an educator was to make sure the student learns the material. If I gave the student a zero and moved on, he/she would not learn the concepts. Others might argue that allowing students to turn in late work does not teach them responsibility. These educators feel that giving students multiple opportunities to turn in late work condones procrastination. There is a fear that those students would become accustomed to this practice and would continue to develop poor work habits later in life. I understood both sides of the argument, but I felt that it is very hard to recover from a zero.
When I started my new position as principal, it was my goal to establish a policy that could address both sides of the issue. Reflecting on Lowi’s policy types, I felt that this policy fell into the regulatory category, because the rule would affect all teachers within the school (Fowler, 2009). Fowler stated that no policy would “please” all stakeholders and regulatory policies are often “filled with conflict” (Fowler, 2009, p. 243). I expected much conflict, but I followed Fowler’s advice for educational leaders who intend to introduce or change policies, which is to avoid “1) making too many policy changes of the same type close together, 2) making too many policy changes that activate the same individuals and groups at about the same time, and 3) making a combination of changes that activate too many people and groups in the policy arena at the same time” (Fowler, 2009, p.246). I had several ideas or changes that I wanted to make during my first year, but I decided to limit the number of major changes. I chose grading as the first issue to put on the table for discussion.
After given all parties in the debate a chance to express how they felt about the grading of late and incomplete work, we were able to narrow it down to two groups with opposite opinions. Group one consisted of educators that felt a student should be given multiple chances to turn in assignments with a late penalty and Group two, educators that felt a zero should be given with no option for making the assignment up. The compromise came through analyzing the similarities between each group’s opinions. Both groups felt that students should be held accountable for school work. Group one felt making the student to do the assignment, even for reduced credit, shows the student he/she can’t just get away with not turning it in. Group two felt that the zero would be the motivating factor that shows a student there are consequences for not doing the work.
To get both groups to agree with a standard policy regarding zeros, a plan was developed to incorporate a little of both ideologies. The new policy would require all teachers to give students a chance to turn in late assignments for reduced credit only up to a certain time frame. After the deadline, the zero would be added. However, any student with an average less than fifty percent at the end of a marking period would be given a fifty, so he/she had the possibility of recovering by the end of the year. Each group saw that the policy incorporated a piece of its basic platform.
According to Fowler (2009), one of the most important tasks of the school leader is to implement the policy. Since the policy was adopted, my goal is to monitor its implementation. It is very easy for a person to agree in principle to a policy change, but will he/she actually carry the policy out?