My school is considering an "amnesty"day

Discussion in 'Debate & Marathon Threads Archive' started by tchr4evr, Jan 18, 2012.

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  1. tchr4evr

    tchr4evr Companion

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    Jan 18, 2012

    Just wanted to get your thoughts

    Because my school is in School Improvement (due to our graduation rate being 2 percentage points too low) our administration is toying with the idea of amnesty day. This is a day once a week when the teacher is supposed to provide classroom time for students to make up any work they have missed,regardless of reason - so it's not just absent students, but students who just didn't do the work to begin with. We also must provide for those students each week a list of assignments they need to complete. Those students who have nothing to make up may have free time, in which they may do what they wish, including listen to their Ipods,etc (which is against school rules)

    Most of the teachers are in an uproar. I feel it is giving kids one more excuse not to do the work, and how can we enforce the school rule of no electronic devices if we allow them during some parts of the day? What is to stop a student, or a parent, arguing that "Well, I was done, so I used my Ipod, etc."
     
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  3. Reality Check

    Reality Check Habitué

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    I guess I'm not surprised anymore to hear stories like yours. They keep lowering the bar and the schools keep catering to the lowest impulses of the lowest common denominator of society anymore.

    :|
     
  4. MissCeliaB

    MissCeliaB Aficionado

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    Some of our teachers allow an amnesty day once a nine weeks where they will accept any missing assignment for half credit, and allow students to do the work in class. Other students are given an optional assignment that is due at the end of the period, or they may study for another class. This works well for them, but I don't typically do this. I remind students regularly about missing work, and if they don't do it, they don't do it.
     
  5. Caesar753

    Caesar753 Multitudinous

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    An occasional amnesty day (like once per quarter or semester) can be a good idea. I do it myself from time to time. It's not as much about bringing up grades as it is about giving students one last opportunity to practice a skill that they need to know. Sometimes the incentive of an improvement in their grade is enough to get them to take one last stab at it.

    With that having been said, a weekly amnesty day seems like a tremendous waste of instructional time. Fully 20% of the school year will be spent doing independent make-up work? That sounds ridiculous to me. What's more, I don't think it will work.

    My school has adopted a policy where students can retake any quiz or test. In theory it's a good idea, but in practice it doesn't work. The students just come into test day not having prepared or studied, believing that they can do it again later when they've had more time. The problem is that many of them either don't prepare or study later, don't ever come in to do the retake, and/or wait so long to do the retake that the material has already been integrated into new material, which the student has been unable to learn because he didn't know the foundational stuff. It's a nightmare.
     
  6. silverspoon65

    silverspoon65 Enthusiast

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    I don't have a problem with letting them make up the work so much. Our job is to grade them on their skill and mastery of content, not their punctuality. There are other ways to teach that which don't affect the grade.

    My problem would be that they get a whole day every week to do this. Would it be the same day, or at your discretion? Like, Friday is amnesty day in all classes - just a make up day. If that's the case, if I had all my work done for the week, I am pretty sure I would just stay home every Friday. And the kids that DON'T have their work done are going to say, eh, I don't need to go, we already learned this. I'll just do it at home. (Yeah right.)

    Is your principal open to suggestions? We have a flex period twice a week. Students get a pass from whatever teacher they need to do work for (or the teacher gives them the pass and makes them come) and we have an extended homeroom so students can get extra help or do work. Homeroom teachers are also supposed to monitor their students' grades and act as an advisor during that time, or encourage kids to get passes for classes they are failing.
     
  7. Irishdave

    Irishdave Enthusiast

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    :thumb:
     
  8. teacherintexas

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    They should allow this amnesty day during Saturday school. It's a waste of instructional time to allow it during the school day.
     
  9. kcjo13

    kcjo13 Phenom

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    :thumb::thumb::thumb:
     
  10. swansong1

    swansong1 Virtuoso

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    Why should the students who want to learn and progress through the curriculum be punished because of the lazy butts?
     
  11. waterfall

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    The part that irks me is the once a week- how is that even possible? So you're essentially going to fit the same curriculum you were doing in 5 days a week into 4 days now? Also, personally even as the kid that always turned homework in, if I knew I was going to have a day once a week to finish at school anyway with no penalty, even I wouldn't have bothered to do it at home! I could see maybe doing this once a quarter or something...but once a week sounds like a recipe for disaster.
     
  12. JustMe

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    We have to do this officially once per week. Exactly.

    We have to provide work any day...even from August if the student just now decides she wants to take the quiz she refused to take many months ago because she was moody.
     
  13. Mrs. K.

    Mrs. K. Enthusiast

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    :eek:
     
  14. JustMe

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    Yeah, lovely.
     
  15. MsMar

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    Once a week is ridiculous. What a total waste for students who do their work, and what a lovely way to tell students due dates are irrelevant.
     
  16. MissScrimmage

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    That would never fly here. Not only because I teach grade 1, but because my principal values instructional time too much to make one day a week a "catch up day".
     
  17. Ima Teacher

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    We had amnesty day the last day of the grading period, which also happened to always fall on the Friday right before a vacation. It was a notoriously low attendance day. So, kids who had missing work could make it up for a passing grade on that assignment, and the kids without missing work had field day or movie or a dance. It was a half day only, and the attendance was much, much better.
     
  18. Cerek

    Cerek Aficionado

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    I have to respectfully disagree with this. The title of "Teacher" encompasses a lot more than just skill and mastery of content (although these make up the bulk of our duties). We are also supposed to teach responsibility and accountability to our students. Punctuality is a part of that, because it is a vital skill for any job they may have. Showing up for work on time, meeting deadlines, organizing multiple duties so all are completed in a timely and efficient manner are important in almost every job available. So, the sooner kids learn it IS important to do their work on time, the better prepared they will be for life after school.

    I wouldn't have a problem with 1-2 amnesty days per grading period, but I feel once per week just defeats the purpose because it is giving kids an automatic extension on every assignment they receive that week. Not only will that reduce the incentive to do work on time, it will also have a tremendous impact on teaching the skill and mastery of content.

    In classes such as science and math, current lessons often form critical foundations for future lessons. So I give an assignment on Monday and try to go over the work on Tuesday, but many of the kids haven't bothered to do the work yet because they are going to wait until Friday. So, in addition to reducing my teaching time by 20% (as already mentioned), it also causes severe delays in the content I AM able to teach during the other 4 days. We can't move on to unit 2 until the majority of students have shown understanding and mastery of Unit 1. We can't do that until they do all the work from Unit 1. So I can see the potential for a serious domino-effect with this idea.

    If you are required to give a weekly "Amnesty Day", then I think it would be fair and reasonable to give an automatic grade reduction for work turned in that day. My first thought would be 10-20%, but since your chronic offenders would be happy with a 90 instead of 100, that might not be enough. So it may need to be at least 25% off if the work is intentionally put-off till the end of the week. That way, there is still some incentive for students to complete the work on time.

    If an Amnesty Day is given once or twice per grading period, then I would be fine with giving full credit on the work turned in because your chronic offenders will likely have multiple missing assignments and only be able to complete 2-3 of them in the time given. Those 2-3 grades won't be enough to offset the ones that are still not finished.
     
  19. JustMe

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    I will continue to wish for a grade for behavior/work ethic/participation/etc. so that it's still crystal clear what students have mastered as far as content, while also teaching kids in a very direct way (and then reporting the results) these important skills.
     
  20. silverspoon65

    silverspoon65 Enthusiast

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    Notice I didn't say we shouldn't teach it. I said we shouldn't grade it. When a student graduates from the state of PA with an A in my class, anyone looking at that transcript should know that the grade means that they mastered the state standards that PA has deemed appropriate for that course. Not how many cans or boxes of tissues they brought in, not whether or not they turned their work in on time, not how many times they raised their hands.

    Now, if my school wants me to give a separate "employability" grade or "Life skills" grade, I am ok with that. I actually advocated for that in my last school.
     
  21. Caesar753

    Caesar753 Multitudinous

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    This.
     
  22. GemStone

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    So the students who do what they're supposed to have to lose instructional time for the ones who are being irresponsible or lazy? Great idea!
     
  23. Cerek

    Cerek Aficionado

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    Yes, I noticed you specified you shouldn't grade it rather than saying you shouldn't teach it. I still disagree.

    If students don't face consequences for late work, they won't have any external incentive to do the work on time. In school, the most tangible consequence or reward they receive are their grades.

    It's been many years since I was in school, but beginning in high school, I learned very quickly that assignments DID have a specific due date and, if that date was not met, then I would have a number of points, percent of grade or even a full letter grade deducted for each day the assignment was late. Even using the most lenient deduction method, turning in work 4 days after it was due would almost guarantee a failing grade on that assignment. So that provided a lot of incentive to get my work completed and handed in on time. When I went on to college, I discovered deadlines/due dates were even stricter, with far less leniency allowed. Some professors simply would not accept late assignments for any reason (other than being absent from class the day the assignment was given or due).

    There are several skills we teach that we can't grade; having all supplies for class (pencil, paper, book, etc), not speaking out of turn, treating others with respect and courtesy, and many others.

    However, turning work in on time is a skill we can grade, since it is one component of the assignment itself.
     
  24. Special-t

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    We are required to stay one hour after school at least 2x per week. Students can always find a teacher for tutoring on any given day after school. That's more in line with school improvement than taking away instructional time. It teaches the students that there is solution to missing work, but at a cost. Choices and consequences.
     
  25. Special-t

    Special-t Enthusiast

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    Unfortunately, schools on school improvement plans tend to be more concerned with graduation rates than preparing their students for college and work-related deadlines.
     
  26. TulipsGirl

    TulipsGirl Cohort

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    Why not? If it is an expectation, why can't we grade them on it? If we are finding that students respond to grades, and it provides an incentive to rise to the expectation, then why don't we have these on report cards and transcripts?

    It could read as follows, (with wording more or less sophisticated based on the age/grade):

    Responsibilty:
    - consistently has materials necessary for lesson and projects
    - consitently turns in assignments in a timely manner
    Interpersonal and intra personal working skills:
    - has self control during class discussions, (raises hand etc)
    - works well in groups
    - accepts criticism and disapointment

    You get the drift. We grade our first graders on such things each semester. If a child hasn't mastered this as the years go by, it's time we put it back on the report cards and transcripts.
    If a college wants to admit a student who may be quite bright but sees that he has put no effort into actually being a STUDENT they may think twice about admitting him into a college for higher education - where effort of this sort is required. This may be the push that certain kids need to kick up the effort a notch..
     
  27. Irishdave

    Irishdave Enthusiast

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    But remember it is not the student's fault............
    it is YOUR fault for not being entertaining enough..... :rolleyes: :eek: :mad: :woot: :dizzy:
     
  28. Irishdave

    Irishdave Enthusiast

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    Yes, but we are dealing with a "bean counter" mentality there has to be data for the sake of data!
    Some of the people interpreting the data don't know **** from Shinola (a brand of shoe polish, for you young ones)
    Instead of it being used for improvement of instruction it is being used for evaluation of teachers.
     
  29. Cerek

    Cerek Aficionado

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    Amen, Brother! Just one of the many things wrong with education now, thanks in large part to NCLB and the mentality it has created.

    "Conduct" was one of the grades given out every 6 weeks on report cards from grades 1-12 when I was in school and "participation" in class counted as a significant part of my grade in many of my college courses.
     
  30. silverspoon65

    silverspoon65 Enthusiast

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    They SHOULD face consequences for turning things in late. Phone call to parents, detention, required attendance at an after school program, etc. - plus the internal consequence of not being able to keep up on the next unit, especially in classes where the work builds on itself.

    But I find it unconscionable as an educator that a grade I give on a report card represents anything more or less than their mastery of the course standards. IMHO.

    I also find the deadline to be totally unrealistic of real world expectations. When I was department chair at my last school, some people in my department wanted to implement a 10% of per day rule for late work. I was strongly opposed to that, obviously. Their main argument was - "In the real world, there are consequences to turning things in late." I was surprised then when I was preparing my first monthly report and I asked them to send me their data for the month - even though they had a month's notice, guess how many of them turned it in late? Did their paychecks get docked 10% every day it was late? No. We talk about "Real World Consequences" but truthfully who ever got fired for taking some extra time on a project, especially if they mastered it? It's really about taking the time to teach the kid what to do (asking for an extension, making better plans for next time, etc.)
     
  31. MrsC

    MrsC Multitudinous

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    The subject area grades on our report cards must reflect only the student's mastery of the specific curriculum expectations (standards) that were taught. We do have a separate area of the report card (actually the first section) for reporting "Learning Skills" like responsibility, independent work, initiative, etc. Sometimes it's difficult to separate out the two--or much is lack of mastery and how much is poor work habits--but it's my job to be able to determine that.

    I agree with silver's real world example--I won't be fired or docked pay if I hand my report cards in to the principal for proof-reading a day or two late.
     
  32. MissCeliaB

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    I think the age and level of the students makes a big difference. For example, using only the state standards to grade for an upper level honors or gifted phase course makes no sense. Of course everyone would get an A, as those are the top 10% or so of students. Grading has to go beyond that, as the students are expected to, in many cases, master college level material in their courses. In a course like that, where most students will go to college, I think that setting strict deadlines and giving penalties is appropriate, and necessary. In my general phase courses I am more accepting of late work as it truly takes many of those students more time to master the content.
     
  33. a2z

    a2z Virtuoso

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    :thumb:

    I get tired of the "real world" reasoning when often it doesn't represent what happens in the real world.
     
  34. a2z

    a2z Virtuoso

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    I believe that any teacher that at all struggles with some aspect of their job had to undergo the scrutiny students do on a daily basis, they would be high tailing it out of the school. If all schools were that way to the teachers they would high tail it out of the profession.
     
  35. Cerek

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    Who ever got fired for taking some extra time on a project or work? I have. When I worked for DSS, everything had to be completed within a very specific timeframe. After 4 months, I had two cases that had gone past the allotted time frame and I was let go. Of course, the fact I received no formal training on the job at all had a lot to do with that. Any time I had a question for my manager, her answer was "Look it up in the manual." (which was several hundred pages). She wouldn't even tell me which section to look in, so finding the answer to a specific question was very difficult, to say the least.

    I also worked in Purchasing for two rural hospital over a period of 13 years. I was responsible for ordering 90% of the supplies used in all the departments, including the ER and OR. If I did NOT get those materials in stock on time, you better believe I would have been in serious trouble.

    Maybe the education field doesn't hold deadlines very firm, but I can assure you many other fields do.
     
  36. Reality Check

    Reality Check Habitué

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    :yeahthat:
     
  37. a2z

    a2z Virtuoso

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    And others don't have as strict deadlines.

    Many professions or fields encourage and reward people for their ability to use words to make people think one thing when it isn't exactly accurate. Why do we give kids consequences when we catch them doing the same? Business, marketing, trades, lawyers, etc are all masters at verbal manipulation. Shouldn't we be encouraging more of this and give conseqences to those that don't do this because it is a needed skill in many professions.
     
  38. MissCeliaB

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    I had a friend in high school who was fired from McDonalds for leaving the fries in the grease too long. It only happened twice, and she was out of there, despite otherwise doing a good job. They told her that they had ten other applicants for that job who wouldn't burn the fries, so they were going to go with one of them.

    Another friend of mine had to spend an additional YEAR in college because he failed a class he needed to graduate. It was only offered in the spring semester. He had a B going into the last week, and submitted his final paper (worth a large percent of the grade) literally seconds after the time it was due online. The professor would not take it, and he failed. He lost his appeal and could not graduate without taking that class again.

    I think that we are doing our students a great disservice by not enforcing deadlines, particularly for those who are going to college.
     
  39. tchr4evr

    tchr4evr Companion

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    me too

    I have worked in several fields that require on time directives. I was an administrative assistant and I did not finish a presentation for my boss and although I was not fired, I was expected to come in on the weekend with no pay to finish it. I also worked as a veterinary tech assistant, and believe me, you didn't give an animal the right medication on time, they could die. My husband has two chances to be late to work, regardless of the reason, and on the third, he's fired.

     
  40. a2z

    a2z Virtuoso

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    The more I think about it....

    I'm wondering how many of these jobs people were fired for not having done the "required tasks" on their own time outside of office hours. Seems people were fired because during the time they were getting paid to do these tasks they failed to do them.

    Now, I'm not saying there aren't salaried jobs in which people will get fired for not accomplishing a task, but in a salaried job the company owns you regardless of "standard business hours" (unless there is something in the contract that says you have set hours and no more).

    But we have been talking about "in the real world", and many of the examples were people failing to complete the tasks that were expected to be completed during business hours. Too bad for students that "business hours" are now 24x7 with school infringing in all aspects of a student's life.
     
  41. teachyourkids

    teachyourkids Rookie

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    Think of how many hours a school year you are losing the ability to teach because the students are doing schoolwork that should have been done already.
     
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