Although it is a pretty common practice in classrooms across the country, NTN doesn’t recommend using extra credit in all but a few special circumstances. In many cases, extra credit assignments are tasks that take time to complete but do little to deepen the student’s understanding of the content and are sometimes even awarded for things like cleaning the chalkboard.
Special consideration should be given to how the extra credit work affects both the student’s grade and the learning behaviors you wish to instill in your classroom. In most cases, extra credit points should only be earned in the “agency” or “work ethic” category of your gradebook. If a student, for example, gives an extra presentation, this doesn’t mean they have necessarily improved their oral communication skills and, in fact, their performance could be worse than their average score. We want to make sure that our assessments of student skills against the school-wide learning outcomes accurately reflect what the student can do and not artificially inflate that score.
Alternatives to extra credit could include
- Giving “replacement” assignments by excusing a task or assessment that doesn’t accurately reflect the student’s skills and creating a custom assignment for that student that is better able to reflect the student’s abilities.
- Create “enrichment” activities where you and the student agree on what the task is, when the due date is, and how many points it will be worth.
If you decide to give extra credit:
- Any time you award more points to a student than are possible for a task, the points are added to the total points the student has earned in that category. If a student went “above and beyond” on a task, simply give the students extra points. Note: you cannot make an assignment worth “0” points because the system ignores any grading category that has no value.
- You can create an assignment that is designated extra credit by checking the box on the “Scores” tab of the item editor. Then enter a maximum extra credit value in the points possible box for the targeted categories (this allows the category to be displayed when grading student work). With this box checked, the system doesn’t add the points possible to the student’s total, only the points earned.