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Homework Question: No More Zeros?


This AP story details an innovative, and effective, program to get students to finish their homework. At Glenpool Middle School, teachers don't give out zeros for incomplete homework assignments. Instead, they send the students to a lunch study hall, where they are expected to complete the originally assigned work. If the work still isn't completed by the end of the lunch period, their parents are contacted to make arrangements for the student to finish the assignment before or after school hours.

I think this is a really good idea for a number of reasons. First of all, zeros pull down a student's average in a frighteningly quick and devastating way. Even if the student had all A's on every other assignment, one zero could conceivably bring his or her overall grade down to a C, or worse. Second of all, if students don't do their homework assignments and take a zero instead, they still have not learned whatever the assignment was designed to teach. This program tackles both of those problems by making it very difficult for students to receive zeros on homework assignments and making them do the work whether or not it's completed on time. Also, I imagine that losing out on lunch is extra motivation for students to finish their homework at home.

What do you think? Is forcing kids to finish incomplete homework assignments during lunch a good idea, or does it eliminate the consequences of not getting it done, and let them off too easy?


This is a modified version of what I plan to do with my ESL students in Beijing when our second semester starts in March. During the just-finished first semester, students had far too many zeroes, even after I eliminated the lowest three scores for each student. For many students, failure - failure in terms of their grade and in terms of learning English - was the end result.

In China, tests count for everything, homework (and even class work!) is often considered optional. Unfortunately, in order to learn a language, students must practice consistantly, which is my main purpose in giving them homework every night. I think I will be spending many lunch hours monitoring students during the first week or two of March, hoping they'll get the message. We'll see how it works...

I went to a Catholic high school, and it was automatic: when you didn't hand in an assignment, or your assignment was incomplete, you were sent to study hall, where you had to finish the assignment. Study hall was a 40-minute period after school. If you missed study hall you had to go to two study halls for each one you missed, and the count kept mounting if you missed those... ultimately if you missed too many you could theoretically get suspended from school. Since I played sports I might miss a game because I had to go to study hall, and if it was the off-season, I'd still always do all my homework because I wanted to hang out with my friends...

I think that's pretty common in Catholic schools.

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  • Anne: I went to a Catholic high school, and it was read more
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