Extra Extra (Credit)! Read All About It!


Mr. Crisafi

For many teachers in the Middle School, a grade such as this one may be a thing of the past.

Look up at the top of the paper, it’s an A, its an A+, no its an A++! This will not be the case anymore at The Benjamin School due to the removal of extra credit in some classes. Several disciplines at The Benjamin Middle School have done away with any and all extra credit and/or extra time leniency (without documented accommodation). As a result, teachers will no longer tolerate any of the seemingly usual “Can I do anything to bring up my grade?” or “Can I get credit if I do it in ETC?”.  Although these phrases were okay things to ask your teacher last year, apparently, now they’re not. Extra credit is a great opportunity for many students to raise their grade. But then again, many students take advantage of this and use it to circumvent their work. The no extra credit policy adopted by somes teachers can be looked at from two perspectives, the teachers and the students.

Many teachers believe students abuse the leniency that extra credit affords and use it to bypass the homework. “ Personally I think extra credit should not be allowed, because I feel that a student has plenty of opportunities throughout the quarter and/or semester to successfully submit all assigned work,” said Middle School Dean Mr. Jeffrey Cavallo. What Cavallo is referring to is when extra credit is used by students to boost their grades.  They do this by disregarding their classes throughout the quarter and then putting on their puppy eyes and begging for enough extra credit to pass at the end of the quarter. But on the other hand, not all teachers are opposed to the idea of extra credit. Social Studies Department Chair Mr. Marshall Mullnix does not mind the idea of extra credit as long as it is awarded when a student goes the extra mile and delves deeper than requested into a subject. As Mullnix said when interviewed, “ With extra credit you have to work for it, it is earned not given.”

But what about this example where extra credit could genuinely help a student who has done his or her best: if a student works hard and gets a terrible grade, that grade can completely devastate the student’s average and take a significant amount of time to raise that average. Wouldn’t extra credit in this instance to help a failing grade be a way to help a student’s genuine efforts be rewarded? Seventh grader Nicolas Lama feels extra credit in this situation is proper because, as he says,  “It’s necessary for students to thrive and get a second chance to improve their grade.”

And what about the instance when a student is on the cusp of a D- or a B+ and really needs a bit of extra credit to prevent herself from failing or helping herself achieve that A-? Couldn’t a case be made for earning extra credit? Many feel that extra credit has been in existence for a very long time, so why stop now? Extra credit can also be seen as a chance to encourage students to go above and beyond what is asked and work hard, learn more, and improve one’s grade. Dr. James, who supports the no-extra-credit policy for class performance, worries about how the policy might affect extra-curricular activities like the Diversity Book Club. She commented:

“Even the most avid reader who wants to learn more about diversity can probably not  afford to take the time from academics, sports, and other activities to spend three weeks reading a book for the Diversity Book Club and then attend the three-hour evening event if I cannot offer that child a substantial amount of extra credit in English and History to do so.  It’s not that that child does not want to enrich him or herself, but if there is no academic reward for doing all that extra work, it makes it awfully hard for the child to justify reading the book and attending the event.  Without extra credit our fledgling Diversity Book Club which has featured incredibly famous authors like Sonia Nazario and Garth Stein would probably fall by the wayside. So I am on the side of no extra credit for students who have not done their work, but I support extra credit for major initiatives like the Diversity Book Club.”

However, Mrs. Ponchock, sixth-grade English teacher, offers a different opinion on the relationship between extra enriching work and extra credit: “I feel that students should focus their energy on excelling at each given assignment. If one has time and drive to go beyond what is expected, it should be for the intrinsic pleasure of pushing oneself; no other reward should be needed.”   Head of Middle School Mr. Charles Hagy agrees that the topic of extra credit is not cut and dried. “When there are problems, such as an illness or another issue, teachers are happy to help students [with extra credit],” he explained. ”Extra credit, however, can be meaningless in the educational process and teaches the wrong lesson to students – that we will rescue students when they don’t do their job the first time.” However, Mr. Hagy sees both sides of the coin. He believes that the decision to offer extra credit is really based on what the teachers feel about it. The question of extra credit is a complex one, and whoever solves this conundrum deserves some extra credit.