Extra credit is much more than “free points”

Emma Brezel, Staff Writer

It’s the night before the end of the quarter and you have been working hard all semester, but you seem to have come up just short of the grade you wanted.  Whether it’s a 94 or a 69, one percent has never given you so much anxiety.  If you are lucky, you may be still able to achieve your dream grade with some extra credit.

The temptation of “free” points is what draws students to extra credit, but the extra credit assignment has different implications for the teacher.  For instance, one popular health extra credit is to have a discussion with a parent or guardian about a topic that was discussed in class.  This may seem easy, but the purpose of the assignment goes beyond boosting a student’s grade.

“We often offer extra credit that involves parent communication.   For example, we ask students to get a ‘Contract for Life’ signed by a guardian in the hopes that parents have an open discussion with their son or daughter about the risks involved in substance abuse and to always arrange for safe transportation.” said health teacher Ms. Janine Kalinowski.

This assignment also proved to be helpful to the students.

“It seemed like an easy ten points, but this assignment allowed me to discuss important issues with my parents that wouldn’t normally be discussed,” said senior Michael Sperling.

Extra credit can be used to supplement class discussions and even to get students to apply their knowledge to the real world.

In light of Hurricane Sandy, social studies teacher Mr. Craig Medico assigned an extra credit to his AP Macro/Micro Economics classes that asked students to evaluate the effects of Hurricane Sandy on the local economy.

“This assignment really made me apply the knowledge I had learned in class to the real world,” said senior Shalini Radhakrishnan.  “Things we learn in school can seem so disconnected from reality, but this extra credit allowed me to apply these topics to something that is very relevant to us.”

Biology teacher Ms. Marla Ezratty also uses her extra credits to open her students’ eyes to the world around them and introduce them to new and interesting topics.  Her biology students are allowed to write a summary of any episode of PBS’s NOVA, a science show examining a different subject in each installment.

“All the NOVA are really interesting and you can pick whichever one you want,” said sophomore Eric Adsetts.  “Even if the topic doesn’t pertain to what we are discussing in class, it is still cool to explore a completely new field of study and learn things that I would never learn in school.”

Extra credit is not just “easy” points that help with students’ grades, but an opportunity for students to learn about interesting topics that the class didn’t have the time to explore fully.