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Missing and Late Work!!!!!

Stephanie Michelle

Junior Member
Hi Everyone,
I'm a first-year 6th grade teacher, and I am having one HUGE problem: my students have so much missing work I don't know what to do! :confused: I just realized this while I was compiling my midquarter grades, and I will have to send report cards home next week and face parents at conferences. It is so bad that in my English class, only THREE people out of 25 have turned in every assignment. :mad: It is ridiculous. I feel like I must be doing something wrong, but then I realize that the students who turned everything in have obviously understood what I was asking for. I write students' names on the board with the assignment they're missing, so it's not like they don't KNOW they need to have it in.

Is there anything I can do to help these kids turn their work in? I am dreading conferences and I feel like such a failure! Please share your ideas for getting work IN!


Senior Member
Missing Work

I don't know if any of these ideas will help, but these are some I've tried...
1. Call their parents (the students who are missing A LOT of work)
2. Have the student call their parents~ I had a couple students (4th grade) who were consistently missing assignments. I told them that when an assignment was more than 2 days late, they would have to call home while I was standing there! They would either talk to a parent or leave a message. Assignments were ALWAYS complete the next day.
3. Make up a "Missing Homework" sheet. Write (or the student can write) what the missing work is. Require that it be brought home and signed by their parents and returned to school. Warn them that if it's not returned they will have to call their parents at work or home.
4. Remember that it's DIFFICULT to keep track of missing work! Try to stay on top of correcting and collecting papers as best you can, so the problem can (hopefully) be taken care of before midquarters.

Some parents might say "I didn't know my child was missing all that work?" or "Why weren't we notified of all this missing work?" By 6th grade they need to start be responsible for their work, but many aren't.

Try to come up with a plan for the next quarter and have it in place. You could also write a little newsletter explaining your homework policy to parents.

Good luck!


so common in middle school

I have had an issue with missing work for the last 4 years (since I started teaching). I used to think I was doing something wrong too. I've come to the realization that middle schoolers have their brains temporarily sucked out by aliens and can't keep themselves organized (hee hee). Humor has helped me I guess. I did start to notice that "homework" was usually the type of assignment that always showed up as "missing" on reports. So much of homework has to be monitored by parents and the fact of the matter is that more and more parents are strapped and stressed in their own jobs or lives that sitting down with their kids to help them complete an assignment just isn't happening. You might analyze your own data to see what types of assignments are missing, or if certain students have a history of missing work (those ones usually lack solid parental support and that's a whole different issue). You can go either way in your support of homework. Personally, I don't like to assign too much homework for the fear that it won't get back to school. I give a lot of in-class work time on assignments. I also have a class raffle for all kind of kid "goodies" at the end of each month and if any students have missing work they cannot participate. Maybe you might try an incentive system. But then that's an instrinsic vs. extrinsic motivation debate.... just some thoughts.


Senior Member
missing work

wow! that's a lot of missing work!

this is my 12th year teaching 6th grade--one of my big frustrations is the kid who does very little. i say kid because there is one every year...some years there are 2 kids...sometimes 3 or 4 who just don't care and who have never done much work. i haven't found a way to get to those kids.:(

but here are some ideas:
*definitely stay on top of grading--progress report time used to always be the time when i went, holy cow! look at the missing work! so i realized i need to do a better job at paperwork to stay on top of that. if you can't grade that rapidly, try this--write the name of your assignments at the top of a clipboard and flip through the turned in stack, checking off kids who turned work in--this way i know right away who's missing the assignment; most of the time when i call kids back, they have the assignment, just didn't "hear" me say to turn it in--duh. (i have a detailed system for my grade sheets--a check for turned in, a circle for late, a square for not here but needs to turn it in and then a notation about when the kid needs to turn it in*was she absent the day it was assigned or the day it was due* i also have some notations that i mark for when i actually grade--if it's a bad grade, i note NF for not finished (why did johnny get an F? he didn't do the entire assignment) and i write NC for not correct--didn't follow the directions, basically. i have a policy where students can redo work (any grade) for an averaged grade....when this happens, i slash the first grade and write the new one next to it--this way i can tell who is taking advantage of the opportunity.

*the day i check over who's turned in work (i try to do it the day it's due/turned in) i write in my students' agendas/planners if the assignment's missing. (all my parents know to look here for missing work)

*i have also had the student call parents--this keeps you from being the bad guy, and the kid has to be the bearer of bad news--i usually give them some type of script: i didn't turn my math homework in and need you to help me remember tonight.

*i have a study hall 40 minutes before school and 45 minutes after--so kids can have a quiet place to work, get help....mostly it's used by kids who are cramming to get something finished or who've forgotten work or books and couldn't do homework. it's not mandatory, but sometimes a parent and i connive to make it so until all work is in, or grades improve.

*my grade level has done the All-Work-In party every month (every 2 months, and then every quarter....don't think we're doing it this year). all the kids who had all work done went to party--things we've done: movie, art lesson, chalk outside, pizza, brain teasers, game hour, just fun activities; other kids had to work on missing work or just a work packet put together by teacher. i don't know how much that inspired anyone--especially when we went to 1 a quarter!

*this year i'm also doing a "Weekly Tracker" where all students have a grid with a column for each day of week and 2 rows: 1 for behavior and 1 for work ethic. if they are missing an assignment, i punch the tracker. all students with no punches get to be in drawing for prize at end of week--they are seeming to like this and are disappointed when trackers need to be punched. (a team teacher told me today that one of my kids was starting to act out today and she said, keep it up and i'll punch your ticket---ha! kind of sounds like punch your lights out...anyway, he straightened right up!)

*it sounds like you might need to make your students aware that "you mean business" about the missing work....oooh...she's gonna write my name on the board...(obviously you didn't know that the missing work was really a problem until now) you need to tackle it! do you have a recess or break period that you can make them stay in for? do you have detention or school-wide discipline policy? we have a "behavior form" that covers all problems--and for those not on there, fill in the blank! so these could be used to make parents aware of issues---build a paper trail for students who continually don't do work. my principal would even back me up if i requested detention for repeated missing work.

*marie mentioned that homework tends to be missing because it might be too difficult (paraphrasing, hopefully correctly). well, homework should be REVIEW--something that the kids can do independently (following directions and looking at examples) in order to reinforce skills--parents should not be reteaching at home. i think homework tends to be what's missing for a couple reasons: it takes more responsibility to do it--you have to remember to look in planner, read it, follow directions, do it, check it over, put it in binder/backpack, remember to get it to school, and remember to turn it in. good grief! what if we couldn't be held responsible for doing our lesson plans and bringing them to school. also, no one at home (well, in my experience and probably 60% of the time) is going to make them do the work before "recess"/watching TV, playing video games....so kids think they got out of something.

*someone posted several weeks ago--on the old boards--something that they do....that i'd like to try... i found a copy and made some, but haven't figured out how to incorporate (i'm already trying so many new things this year, i'll have to ease into it....) but it's an assignment excuse note---so everyone has something to turn in...this way you have a document that tells when/what/why something wasn't turned in---running record. (and the kid can't say "i TURNED it in!")

*do you have a late work policy? mine is 25% off the first day late, after that the paper is worth zero. now...that's the first day i notice it's late....and up until the time i actually grade, so there is some leeway there (but i don't tell the kids that). also, a kid who's really struggling and it's great he got that paper in 3 days late...i'll grade it. why the late grade and zero?(we could start a whole debate, i'm sure) this is in line with the junior highs my kids will attend...and i don't really want to be getting random papers several days after i've graded all the others. (i did start out doing 10% off each day late.....well, it was awfully hard to determine exactly how many days late those papers were!)

i imagine (depending on your area) you will get a lot of feedback from parents about those grades! you might think about sending some sort of notice to parents about missing work first.

advice on progress reports: i don't really want to hear from parents who are upset about the D's and F's (i want the children to hear from them!) so i "explain" those grades on the progress report: had opportunity to redo but didn't, 3 missing assignments, 2 late papers, ...... this way the parent doesn't have to ask, the info is right there.

i also have a policy on extra credit---you may be asked about that. oh-waaaaaa...i/my kid have/has a bad grade; what can i/s/he do to raise it. blech. i say right up front: i do not give extra credit right after progress reports or right before report cards. i DO give extra credit in EVERY subject at least once during the quarter. what can your kid do to ensure a good grade? *do quality work*turn work in on time*put his/her name on paper*redo low graded papers*take advantage of all extra credit opportunities, even if not needed at the time.

hope any of this helps! good luck


Senior Member
MIA work

I send a note home for every missing or incomplete assignment. I have premade forms and just fill them out. I also keep a list on my clipboard listing name, date and missing assignment. When they return the note signed the next day, I highlight it. If the work is not turned in on time, they lose 10%, day 2 they lose 50% and day 3 they earn a 0 (zero).

Believe it or not, I have had no o's yet this quarter. Yes, many 10% and 50% off. I used to spend time writing names on the board and sending home weekly sheets to parents. NOw it is an everyday thing. The parent is aware of his/her child's laziness. All of us 5th grade teacher's agreed to it.

As I am going to correct the work with the students, I ask who doesn't have it completed. Hands are raised and notes are written. It saves me tons of time in the long haul.


late work

You are getting a lot of good advice. I give virtually NO homework except for independent reading and the occasional project. I've been teaching for 11 years and have never gotten homework consistently from anyone except the best students.

Have kids put their paper in a bin to turn it in. Before they can leave I take the papers and call the kids' names; when they hear their names, they can leave. Sometimes everyone stands up, I call out names from the papers, and they sit down one by one. The ones still standing haven't turned in the work. You can find out who hasn't turned in a paper immediately with these techniques. You can have the kids hand the assignment to you as they leave as a "ticket out the door." If they didn't do it you can make them stay behind and put their names on blank paper so you can prove that they just didn't do the work.

Also you can travel from desk to desk and take a grade on work on the students' desks as they finish it and give them a short conference at the same time (I do this a great deal with paragraphs and journal writing). That way you can get the grade recorded immediately. If you find yourself getting behind on grading (and who doesn't?), you just have to throw out some of the busy work. Don't let the weight of paper grading make you crazy.

Whenever possible, have the students grade their own work or trade and grade. Some people (myself included) obsess over the possibility that students will fudge grades, but I am always surprised how laissez faire kids are about low grades they get when they score their own papers. I hand out red pens and allow only red pens to be used during grading sessions. If they grade themselves, they get instant feedback as well as helping you with the grading.

Do you use a computer program to record grades? Some grading programs allow you to generate a report of missing assignments which you can hand to the kids or give to parents. "Gradebook" is the name of a good easy-to-use grading program available online for a fee. There is a way to make grades available online for parents using Gradebook, but I never took it that far when I used to use it a few years ago. At our school we now use a program called Pinnacle that the parents can access on the internet to see kids' grades. That access combined with "Saturday School" that teachers may assign when students get behind has cut down on the conferences we have now.


Senior Member
Please give this a try

I number the students in my class alphabetically, so each student has a number. When it is time to collect work, call the numbers one at a time and have students bring their paper and hand it to you. You may think this takes tons of time, but it actually doesn't after a time or two. Students know when they will be called and are almost on the floor before you call their number. You are instantly aware of who doesn't have their work, and they are instantly aware of all their classmates knowing they didn't have it. After a day or two, the number of missing assignments greatly diminishes. For those students who are chronically late, you might want to check to see if the assignment is complete.

You might want to have students who do not have their work, fill out a colored form that explains what is missing and why. The purpose of the colored sheet is to call everyone's attention to the fact that it is not the assignment being turned in. Peer pressure helps.

Stephanie Michelle

Junior Member
Thank you!

Thank you all SO MUCH! That was like 40 great ideas at once! It's almost too much for me to take in. I am going to try some of those ideas asap! Thank you!;)

Carrie in WV

Full Member
Great Ideas

This year I am not having a problem with this at all except for one student. I have a checking account system with my kids. They earn money with jobs in the classroom and if they have missing assignments they have to "pay" me $50! The money left in their account will be used in an auction at the end of each semester, so they want to keep all of the money they can! Homework and classwork have ceased to be a problem for me and I am rejoicing!


Senior Member
Could you tell me more

about the weekly tracker? Is it a sheet for every student? I have 120, so I'm thinking that would be a lot of paper shuffling. However, I like the sound of being able to track homework and behavior regularly. Any additional information would be great. Thanks


End of the Year Auction

Would you describe how your End of the Year Auction works?


Me Too :(

I'm a 5th grade teacher and it's my first year and I am dealing with the same problem. I have learned a lot in the last week or so and I am so excited to end this quarter and begin again!
I am using a HOMEWORK PACKET for spelling, math REVIEW and reading log. The spelling worksheet is grrrreat! It has colums so the students alphabetize and answer the questions in their spell book, 1-20 in the remaining columns and then write sentences using each word and the other two spell sheets. Math will either be review of 4th grade skills, review of the previous week, or a re-teach of the lesson we did that day in class.
A studyhall at lunch could be a good idea but I'm not ready for that yet. This last week I gave the students a studyhall on Friday and as they finished assignments from that week they turned them in to a student who checked-off their work and placed it in a folder. It was GREAT! It really is about keeping the students accountable daily either using a missing homework/classwork form, keeping students in at recess if they have grosesly missues their time, giving less credit for late assignments, giving bonus work for students who want to plan ahead or for students who get done early....
Good luck developing your system! Keep asking around and making changes and DON'T GRADE EVERYTHING but RECORD EVERYTHING! I'll pray for you to get through your conferences if you will pray for me :)!
One other thing, packets seem to be all the 6th grade teachers talk about and not grading homework or practice assignments but tests, quizes, projects and final drafts instead, is all that the most amazing 5th grade teacher at my school can talk about.

God bless you!


Senior Member
Question for Tia

I'm interested in this "tracker" you mentioned. Is it something you made yourself? If so, could you give me the details? Thanks!!!

sue cat

hw posting

school notes.com is an awesome and easy way to post hw assignments. I am confident in telling you it takes minutes to update your site daily. I am so excited to use it and it really is a practical way of reporting to parents quickly. Try it! A bonus- it's free



tell your kids that they might get somthing( like candy) if they turn in there assingments every week and if they dont turn them in count them as zeros and just tell the parents that they r not turning in there worck.that is what my teacher does

6th grade student



I am a parent of a 7th grader who is failing every class this year because of missing/incomplete work. I happened on this site by doing an internet search, wasn't expecting it to be teachers. But I do just have to put my two cents in for my own sanity!

Our problem isn't because we (my husband and I) lack the time or energy to sit down with him. The fault really lies upon our son. IF he brings his work home, he does it, or at least says " That's all the work I had for tonight". I have talked to many other parents in the same situation. Since starting middle school, he does not HAVE to use his assignment book anymore, which used to be the home-school connection. We are just doing the best we can and hoping that eventually he will become accountable for his actions (or inaction)

I think too many times, the parents blame the teachers and the teachers blame the parents. What about the kid who just doesnt feel the need to do his work? We cant cause them to care about about something that they don't, all we can do is enforce consequences when expectations are not met, coupled with continued encouragement.


Senior Member
You are so right, Cindy

and as a teacher, it's refreshing to hear a parent say these things. I teach 8th grade English. I had a student tell me this week that his mother said not to worry about his grades because as long as he behaves in his classes (which is a joke!) his mom will tell the principal to socially promote him. The sad thing is, that's exactly what will happen. I had another student say, "If I get bad grades, my mom just grounds me. She sends me to my room, which is perfect cuz everything I want is in there. I don't know what she's thinking hehehehe" I'm NOT kidding - it's like, hello, your kids are smarter than the parents here!!! We have so many conferences where the mom cries and says "I've done everything I can think to do." and you feel bad, but you look over and see this kid has $150 sneakers on and all the best clothes, and I know what I've had to do with my own son (and it works!) Take all those things he values away - if it's sneakers, a cell phone, video game, telephone, computer - whatever it is - take them ALL, and tell him he can earn them back little by little through 100% homework completion. It's not rocket science, so it's so frustrating to me that so many parents seem clueless as to what to do. The kids are running the show - at home and at school. It's scary.


New Member
It is refreshing to hear a parent actually say that their child is responsible for their own work. I have actually had parents to get very angry with me for stating that it is the student's responsibility to get work turned in or for suggesting that the child use an assignment book. I teach in a small school and would give to have just 10 parents like you. It IS the child's responsibility and things will only improve once parents AND teachers hold the CHILD responsible. Again....Thanks for proving that parents like you do exist. It is not a myth and I am not the only one.


As Homer would say "Doh"!

I have had that problem too and what I have come up with is getting as many emails as possible and then at the beginning of each unit I send home an email detailing each days activites and homework assignment...now obviously this takes some advanced planning but that way kids can't say they didn't have work to do and parents are aware of daily homework needs....

if that is too elaborate for your needs simply using your gradebook to your best advantage is a great way....if you still use a paper gradebook (I use both paper and computer) what I do when entering grades is outline the square on the paper in red if the assignment is missing and when it is turned in I put the grade in red also...the rest of the ontime grades go in blue or black and students who are absent get a green outline on their square with a green grade when it is turned in....easy way to quickly see which assignments are missing or have been turned in late and helps remind you to contact parents...I usually do after 3 red squares



well my mom is a teacher and im in school and if we don't bring in our home work we have dention or some how make up her or his time when she was explaing i think that it is fair! i turn in my homework so it has never happend to me !


New Member
Major problem at first

I had this same problem when I began teaching at a middle school. Everyone was failing except ten students out of 135. I consistently told students and had them call. It helped a few but not all.

I had to change this and fast, so going above and beyond, I called every students parent. Those who were doing good, I told the parent. Those who were missing assignments I informed the parent of sat workshops.

I had students stay for lunch detention and with parental (and administration) permission had students come to a sat class. I even took my lap top to three students homes (they were the most popular students missing the most work so I knew word would get around).

By the time Monday rolled around all the students in my classes were turning in assignments and asking if I would visit there house. I am now called the teacher with the traveling laptop and it continues from year to year as students have had siblings in my other classes.

Student know they will stay for sat school as well as give up their lunch and eat in my room while completing work. It was a lot of hard work for a few months, but I rarely have a student missing assignments now.

Bahama Mama

Full Member
Missing homework

I too am a new teacher who experienced the same problem. No amount of calling home or threats seem to work. This year I will try a game that I downloaded called Homeworkopoly. It looks like fun and will hopefully get kids doing their homework.