The reason we assign a certain grade is to give a student feedback on what they have learned. If a student writes a test and gets all the answers wrong, they are assigned a zero on that test. This tells the teacher the student does not know the material and needs extra support. The mark is then put in the context of all their other learning that takes place during the year. If, by the end of the year, the student still hasn’t mastered the material, they fail the course.
However, missed assignments are treated differently. Our approach to missed assignments is to work with each student to find out the reason they did not turn in an assignment. Once a teacher finds out the reason, they work with the student to come up with a solution to address the situation. They agree to a plan to turn in future assignments and the teacher holds the student accountable.
I read with interest your articles about Lynden Dorval’s refusal to follow policy in the school in which I taught in Edmonton. It is unfortunate that his career is ending this way but not following policy has always been a reason for teachers to be fired – and I suspect if he was not following other policies you would agree and not call him a hero.
I do not understand why Mr. Dorval – and you – cannot understand that giving zeros is the opposite of accountability and/or responsibility. Giving a student a zero is giving them a pass to not do the assessment; accountability involves requiring the student to complete the assessment and, if they do not do it, being clear that the teacher will not have enough evidence to determine a grade so their grade will be “I” for Incomplete which means no credit.
Mr. Dorval is completely incorrect in claiming that the no zeros policy is attached to the self-esteem movement. The no zeros policy is attached to the movement for grades that are accurate, meaningful, consistent, and supportive of learning. -- Ken O’Connor
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