Thursday, August 4, 2016

Teachers Divided Over Controversial 'No-Zero' Grading Policy

Teachers Divided Over Controversial 'No-Zero' Grading Policy:

Teachers Divided Over Controversial ‘No-Zero’ Grading Policy

no-zero policy

A small but growing number of school districts have implemented new grading systems that ban grades of less than 50% – the so-called “no-zero” policy. It usually works like this: If a student has completed an assignment – no matter how late or poorly done – he has shown a “good faith” effort, and therefore deserves somewhere between a zero and 49. School leaders who support the policy believe zero grades can put struggling students in too deep a hole.
But what kind of message does a no-zero policy send to a student? And aren’t teachers best-positioned to decide what kinds of grades are handed out in class?
These were just a few of the questions raised at a recent school board meeting in Prince George’s County, MD. Earlier this year, members put together a proposal to revamp the grading system of the area’s high schools that included this “good faith” provision. Other noteworthy changes: educators would no longer be able to use behavior, attendance or tardiness as grading factors and they would be required to allow make-up work, regardless of the reason for the student’s absence.
Supporters of the no-zero policy argued that such a low mark on a 100-point scale doesn’t accurately measure what a student knows and pushes them to give up on a class mid-semester.
Theresa Mitchell Dudley, president of the Prince George’s Country Educators’ Association, while praising the effort to review grading policies, called the proposal  “problematic.” Dudley told the board that it may be not be taking into account some serious issues surrounding accountability.
“How is this making students college and career ready when we are not teaching the basic skills of being timely with your work?” Dudley asked. “Our teachers are professional educators and each educator has a class system for late work. Is your name on a paper ‘good faith’?”
Creating a uniform policy is a one-size-fits-all approach that simply does not fit into every classroom and undermines our efforts to differentiate for our students’ needs” – Natalie Barnes, math teacher
It’s a concern echoed by Natalie Barnes, a math teacher at Martin Luther King Jr. Middle School in Beltsville, MD.
“A large portion of my work as a math teacher focuses on encouraging students to take pride in their work and follow through solving challenging tasks,” Barnes explains. “A grading policy that says ‘good faith’ is only completing half of the assignment completely undermines this message.”
Barnes points out that teachers undergo years of training to help them tailor instruction to meet the needs of students. “Creating a uniform policy is a one-size-fits-all approach that simply does not fit into every classroom and undermines Teachers Divided Over Controversial 'No-Zero' Grading Policy:


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