My Zero Hero

There is a dumb movement in some education circles that says students should never, ever, get a grade below 60 … even if they don’t do the work. This dumb movement also believes that it should be school policy never to use a zero grade. If push comes to shove, students get an “incomplete.”

When I first heard about this movement, I questioned my vision to see if I was reading correctly. I did a double-check and then a triple-check to make sure it was a real phenomenon. It is. There really are teachers and administrators out there who seem to believe that if a student refuses to finish an assignment in a satisfactory way, or refuses to do it at all, then a zero grade must be avoided at all costs – because it is going to be some kind of blow to that kid’s self-esteem. Blow to their self-esteem. Are you kidding me? They should be held accountable, just like they’re going to be in life beyond high school. That zero grade isn’t a blow to self-esteem. It is what is known as a wake-up call, especially for older students.

What the hell is the point of a grading scale that goes from zero to one hundred if teachers are forbidden from using any number less than sixty? And what message are we sending kids when we tell them that, no matter how poorly they perform, no matter how many assignments they ignore or refuse to make up, they will never get a score that reflects what they actually earned — nothing? That policy does not reflect the real world we live in, and it sends kids the wrong message.

The no zero grade policy in schools is a disgrace. And I am not the only one who feels that way.

Out in Edmonton, Alberta, there is a high school physics teacher by the name of Lynden Dorval whose job is apparently in jeopardy — not because of any flaw in his classroom technique or lesson planning ability, but because he refuses to follow this idiotic no zero grade policy, even though his school administration insists on it. Are you kidding me? I think this guy is awesome.

Mr. Dorval, has thirty-five years of teaching experience. He insists that students who miss a quiz, who don’t do any work, or who otherwise ignore his assignments get a big, fat zero. He reports that this approach is a powerful incentive that motivates the kids to get the work done. For insisting on teaching this way, Mr. Dorval was suspended. Because of the public outcry, there is talk that the school system may re-evaluate the no zero grading policy … but as of now, he is considered a trespasser if he steps onto school grounds.

They ought to give him a freaking medal. I love this guy. He is a true hero, someone who stood up for what he knows is right. He should be applauded, not suspended. You know who should be suspended? Everyone of those losers whether on the Board of Education or in the school’s administration that put this ridiculous program into action. I don’t know what world they’re living in, but I know they’re letting down their students.

What kind of workforce are we creating when we tell students that nothing they do, or fail to do, can possibly earn them a grade of zero?

It’s my blog, but your voice. I’d love to hear your opinion.

LINKS:
Huff Post Education: No-Zero Grading Policy In Lowndes County Schools Require Retesting Opportunities For Failing Students
Calgary Herald: Ross Sheppard teacher kicked out of class for giving students zeros

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Jordan Zimmerman is the CEO of Zimmerman Advertising. He is a Maverick ad man. Philanthropist. Self-made madman. Visionary. Father. Alpha Dog. Motivator. Teacher. Leader. Huge success. And now, a blogger.span> Click to join Jordan Zimmerman on Google+ Google