Wednesday, May 7, 2014

Rethinking Old School: What are Zeros?

Zeros are one of the first things educators discuss when it comes to updating grading practices. Many of us can agree that the kids who receive zeros, continue to receive zeros.

Does this not say that the consequence is ineffective?

The context of the blog post from which the image above originated is about assigning minimum grades, such as 50s in place of zeros. The purpose of that practice is to adjust summary grades calculated with mean averaging by reducing the impact of missing data (outliers). I don't agree with zeros, but I certainly can't agree with: 
(1) Scores assigned to nothing (no work, no proficiency demonstrated), and
(2) Teachers being expected to assign minimum grades. 
Mathematically, using 50s does increase the accuracy of the reported grade. Philosophically, it misses the mark in terms of what we are trying to do with grades – communicate student achievement relative to standards. The fact that some schools have used minimum grades says that they value the evidence and don't want grades to be distorted by factoring the lack of evidence. 

Well, if that's the case, go all the way. Commit to no zeros. Otherwise, use of zeros says that none of work is important – (1) work the teacher assigns and (2) work the student has already done.

Let's hear from the #sblchat on this matter.