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"Extra-Credit" -- do you give it? How does it work?


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I'm starting it this year. Dd knows what she must do in order to receive credit for her classes. The ones that are "honors" require a whole lot of extra work on her part, and she knows that, too, and exactly what that extra work will be. That part isn't optional--she is required to do "honors" work in Bio and Omnibus work because those are strong subjects for her. She is not in math because she is weak in math, and I want her to do solid "regular" work in math, not beat herself up trying to do "honors" work.

 

So Extra Credit... I'm giving her the opportunity to do one or two EC projects for each subject. The projects have to be big and time-consuming, must involve both visual and written components, she must give a public presentation (to fam/friends), she must work mostly independently (using mom only for advice, chauffeur, copy-editor), and the project must involve research that utilizes a variety of sources (print/electronic, book/periodical, owned/public resources). Each project, when completed satisfactorily, is worth one point added to the final grade. Certainly a good opportunity to bring up a grade one letter, but not by any means an easy gimme! I see it as an opportunity for someone to demonstrate dedication, hard work etc. to make up for, perhaps, a bad test, or a time of slipping daily work during the holidays. But I don't want it to be so valuable that it might substitute for simply doing the assigned work!

 

What's your school's policy on Extra Credit assignments?

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In subjects where performance can be objectively measured (physics and math), the grade is determined by test scores. I give one cumulative math test at the end of the semester. In physics, there are also points given for homework and quizzes, but the larger portion comes from three one hour exams.

In other subjects (English and history) I do not give quizzes and tests at all. DD is completing larger scale projects on which her grade is based. So for us, there is no "extra credit".

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BTW, I made this decision after hearing how high schools in our area abuse the practice and turn out graduates who expect opportunities for extra credit in college. My son's experience (community college) has been that some instructors do give extra credit, but the majority do not. Ds has heard whining every semester from students who have gotten used to having the option. What is more prevalent is that the lowest exam grade (but never the final) may be dropped. That allows some grace for illness or a family emergency and has saved ds's grade a couple of times. However, not all instructors do that either--so ds has learned that he can't expect that.

 

One of my goals in high school was preparing my son for the work and pace of study required in college. The extra credit projects you're describing would be similar to requirements in a lot of humanities classes, particularly the honors courses, at ds' community college; the difference would be that the projects are required--to not turn one in would result in an automatic failing grade--and to earn an A in the course the work would have to be an A-level effort as defined by the instructor.

 

Of course, one of the beauties of hsing is that you get to make the final call--your situation and expectations for the future might be quite different.

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