Has anyone done this? My students were writing a compare / contrast essay (2 civil rights activists). I have spent the time teaching them how to write it, gave them brainstorm organizer, outline organizer, sentence starters, examples of general statements and thesis statements (told them to change it around, but if they can't I'm ok with them using my examples), went over and over how I need details, the structure of the essay, what to put in the conclusion, etc. I'd say my work is done. I always have / had (over the past 4 years) students who refuse to write an essay. Most of them do this because they think they can't write, so why even try. A lot probably have been able to get away with not writing an essay and still pass the class. So last week I announced in all my classes that if they don't turn in an essay, they will not pass my class, even if they otherwise they would have the grades for it. My reasons (this is what I told them) - you cannot possibly pass a high school English class without ever turning in an essay. You can't just sit there and always do the work that we do together or copy or read, but not actually produce something that shows your thinking and shows that you're capable of writing more than a paragraph. - if you keep passing classes and never write an essay, we're going to have high school graduates who never produced a piece of writing. How are you going to write a letter to your landlord, explaining the problems you have? How are you going to give a written notice to your employer? Write an essay for a job? Help your kid write an essay in elementary school? - this is an English high school class and to pass you need to demonstrate that you can read and understand what you're reading, answering questions about it and formulate your on thoughts. That you can produce a piece of writing about various topics with acceptable language skills. - you do not have to turn in an excellent essay. It can be an essay that doesn't even get passing grades, but you have to attempt it, it has to be about this topic, attempting to answer the writing prompt and show me that you're capable of producing more than a paragraph. Then, given that otherwise you have the grades, you can pass the class. (of course my speech was shorter, but I did repeat it in a couple of classes to make sure it sinks in. What I didn't tell them was that they will have another opportunity to write a persuasive essay and if we have time a business letter. So if they write me an ok essay out of those 2-3, I'm fine with that. They won't have an A, obviously, but can pass. I don't think I'm too harsh. Some of these kids think they can just sit there, copy things and if they behave they will pass the class. a lot of them have spent some time in juvenile hall where I think the curriculum is much lower level, and they all come out with As and Bs. Then they go back to regular school and can barely pass. I have always been against dumbing down lessons, and have never done it. I mentioned this to my principal, just in case some kids will complain. To my surprise, she didn't even bat an eye and said that I'm absolutely right, this also goes with what we've learned in a training 2 weeks ago. It was about English learners, how so many of them never participate, and many go through 8-12 years of school and never say a word, out of fear, out of language skills and because teachers leave them alone. She said the writing is the same thing. So I stand by my decision, but I'm curious what others think.