The nation's second-largest school system has decided to give students like these a break. A new policy decrees that homework can count for only 10% of a student's grade.
Critics — mostly teachers — worry that the policy will encourage students to slack off assigned work and even reward those who already disregard assignments. And they say it could penalize hardworking students who receive higher marks for effort.
The more that homework counts, the easier it is to pass a course--precisely because some teachers do grade on effort. I don't grade on effort, I grade on performance.
In my classes, homework counts for 20% of a student's grade--still too much for LA Unified, but much less than so many others teachers. This means that 80% of a student's grade comes from tests and quizzes, which are measures of performance.
In my classes, students must demonstrate some level of mastery of the material in order to pass the course; I don't give courtesy D's for those who learn nothing but "try" all the homework. That practice is what will end in LA Unified, and I don't think they'll get the results they're looking for, despite their stated aims:
According to the new policy, "Varying degrees of access to academic support at home, for whatever reason, should not penalize a student so severely that it prevents the student from passing a class, nor should it inflate the grade." It was distributed to schools last month.
I could be wrong here, but I predict that grades will go down instead of up with this policy, and it will be modified or replaced within three years. I give that long because it will take a year to notice the drop, another year to confirm it wasn't an anomaly, and a third to make the decision.