Ont. schools will get tougher on late assignments

New guidelines from the Ontario Ministry of Education say teachers will have the option to give students a zero if they hand their assignments in late.

Ontario students who don't hand their assignments in on time may no longer be coddled by their teachers.

When school resumes in a couple of weeks, teachers will be pushing students to meet their deadlines. Failure to do so could have serious implications.

New guidelines from the Ontario Ministry of Education will allow secondary school teachers to give students a grade of zero if they fail to hand in assignments on time — something teachers have been discouraged from doing in the past. 

Until now, the Education Ministry has said teachers should only give students a mark of zero as a last resort.

Some schools even took it further and banned the zero mark completely.  No matter how late students handed in their work they received a mark.

"We were instructed to give students every opportunity to complete work," said Ottawa teacher Dan Maxwell.

But Maxwell says there were inconsistencies in the policy that left him and his colleagues confused.

Some teachers said they could give a zero, while others said "at my school I can't give a zero. My principal says I have to do something else." 

New guidelines that take effect next month clearly give teachers the discretion to hand students a zero.

"Students must understand that there will be consequences for not completing assignments for evaluation or for submitting those assignments late," says a ministry report, titled Growing Success.

"That's a monumental change," said Ken Coran, president of the Ontario Secondary School Teachers' Federation.  He says students need to learn about meeting deadlines.

"In university in any job if you're not fulfilling your duties there are ramifications and repercussions for that," Coran said.

The change takes effect with the arrival of the new school year.