If you allow your high school students a way to offset that one test they bombed out on, consider making extra credit a proactive, rather than reactive, choice for them. Post at the beginning of the course, or hand out along with the syllabus, a list of projects or activities they can complete to boost their overall grade. But assign point value on a sliding scale: a project worth 10 extra points the second week of the semester might be worth 6 points halfway through, and only 4 points when there are two weeks left to go. It might force them to do extra work before they need it, or realize the value in not procrastinating.
The contracts we focus on here help teachers assess students’ understanding of the objectives of a unit. Contracts can help younger students grasp the basics of setting a goal (the contract) and dealing with the smaller pieces needed in achieving that goal (the projects). Older students can benefit from the process by realizing a greater state of independence and responsibility in school lives.