The Norman Transcript

December 28, 2012

Do teachers have to offer extra credit?

The Norman Transcript

NORMAN — Q: I’m pretty sure my son is going to fail his English class this semester. Don’t teachers have to give extra credit to keep this from happening? His isn’t willing to help.

— Jennifer, Norman

Dear Jennifer,

To answer your question, no. Teachers aren’t required to offer extra credit, although most do throughout the semester.

We would first ask these questions of your son:

1. How many times was the class missed? Studies show that grades are directly related to absences.

2. How many zeros are there for missed assignments? Teachers can’t grade anything if it isn’t turned in, and zeros obviously add no points to the overall grade.

3. Did you take advantage of any extra credit opportunities throughout the semester?

4. Why are you waiting until the end of the semester to be concerned about your grade? Work should be turned in to be graded in a timely manner. Assignments have deadlines, and what better way to prepare for the “real world” than to do what is supposed to be done when it’s supposed to be.

None of the above may pertain to your situation. You didn’t say if your son had been struggling with the class all semester. Encourage him to ask questions in class or stay afterward to get some help. Teachers are willing to help students if they just put forth the effort.

It’s truly a rare occurrence that we hear of a student actually failing a class when he or she has been in class, turned in the work and tried. If your son is a high school student, English is required for graduation. There will be opportunities to make up the deficiency, so he can still be on track to graduate. Contact your school counselor to get all of your options.

Q: It seems that more and more, there are so many teachers who just don’t like kids. Why do they go into teaching?

— Steve, Oklahoma City

Dear Steve,

Although it might appear at times that a teacher may not like kids, in our 49 years combined experience, we can only think of a handful of teachers who truly didn’t have the students’ best interests at heart. Fortunately, these don’t seem to last too long in education.

Are there days when teachers (same as parents) are fed up with behavior issues and non-cooperation? Absolutely. We both grew up during the time that “licks” were given in school, and we can honestly say there weren’t quite the number of issues we have now. Kids know they can’t be touched, so there’s no real deterrent to curb bad behavior.

Whoever thinks a teacher doesn’t like him should probably ask himself why. Sometimes a student’s interpretation of a situation isn’t completely accurate. For instance, if the answer to the above question is that “the teacher always tells me to sit down or be quiet,” the teacher has every right to expect the student(s) to follow classroom rules.

If a student feels as though a teacher doesn’t care for him or her, there’s a process to follow: Rationally talk to the teacher about the problem first, and if that doesn’t satisfy the problem, request a conference with a counselor or principal. As always, open communication is key.

Jeannie and Sally are certified school counselors with 49 years combined educational experience. Jeannie has two children, Sally three. The responses presented don’t necessarily represent the views of any certain school district. Please send questions to

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