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Saturday

X is for eXtra Credit - eXcellent or eXasperating?


Extra credit was once a blessed bonus teachers bestowed upon the very best work students produced. Today, extra credit points have taken on an entirely new meaning.

Are your kids earning extra credit in school?

Do you think it’s necessary for instructors to provide opportunities for students to make more points than assignments allow?

Not long ago, I served as an English teacher in a local school, pinch-hitting for a teacher on emergency medical leave. I taught, but I also learned a lot, particularly about extra credit.
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Consider these five extra credit lessons I found.

1. The highest scoring students will almost always take advantage of opportunities to earn extra credit.

As a teacher, I was astonished at first to discover that those who needed extra credit points the least were the ones who seemed to want them the most. The school principal actually urged me to add a few extra questions on tests and quizzes for bonus points.

Guess who bothered to answer these every time? That’s right. Scholars who would easily earn 100 percent scores made 100-plus instead.

2. The lowest scoring students often won’t bother with extra credit projects.

Pupils who failed to complete regular homework assignments or study for tests and quizzes seldom seemed to bother with extra credit questions. They tended to show little interest in doing extra reports, collecting relevant news clippings, helping with classroom bulletin boards, or completing any other tasks for extra points.

3. Parents may value extra credit more than students do.

Ask my friend Tom, who teaches math in a private high school. Last month, an angry father stormed into a parent/teacher conference, grunting about his son’s grade.

“If Sam fails math, he won’t graduate,” the dad complained. “We pay good money to send him to this school. Can’t you give him an extra credit project or something?”

“How about the five assignments he neglected to turn in?” Tom asked.

You can imagine how well that was received by the frustrated parent.

4. The most popular extra credit assignments tend to have little to do with the class curriculum.

Raise your hand, parents, if your kids have scored extra for bringing papers home for parent signatures.

How many have ever received bonus points for donating boxes of facial tissues or antibacterial wipes to classrooms in elementary or high school?

5. Extra credit may not be so “extra,” after all.

Although teachers may spend considerable time and creativity to develop supplementary assignments or other means of offering extra credit points to struggling students, many schools seem not to regard this as superfluous at all. Extra credit is a given. Why?

Parents and teachers:

Does anyone else find it frustrating that an assignment has become less than an assignment? Should students see schoolwork as optional? How about college essays? Or even career projects?

“I don’t really have to complete this task. I can always do something for extra credit later, like right before salary reviews.”

Oh, and I want 25 extra credit points for this assignment.

Last year’s A to Z post: X Marks the Spot
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1 comment:

  1. I read this WHOLE article. I think you should send me a nickel.

    ReplyDelete

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