HuffPo: No-Zero Grading Policy In Lowndes County Schools Require Retesting Opportunities For Failing Students

20 02 2012

First Posted: 02/ 3/2012 5:16 pm Updated: 02/ 5/2012 11:36 am

Lowndes County Schools students in Georgia can relax a little — 3rd through 8th graders can no longer receive zeros on assignments.

Under a new policy, report cards and progress reports will reflect a 60 out of 100 as the lowest grade, and teachers must offer students opportunities to retake tests and redo assignments until a passing grade is earned. The highest grade earned will be recorded, and teachers cannot record zeros, but can give an “incomplete” for work not turned in after insisting that the assignment be completed.

UPDATE 2/5/2012 11:00 A.M.: Lowndes County Schools Superintendent E. Steven Smith issued a statement Saturday. Read more below. The district has also posted the full text of the new guidelines online. See end of story to read the full guide.

The grading guide states that teachers should not be satisfied with issuing grades below a student’s potential. According to The Valdosta Daily Times:

Essentially, even though a child has the potential to make an A, but doesn’t do the work and makes an F, that F should not count because the child is ostensibly smart enough to make the A.

“Assigning a grade of zero is equivalent to giving up on a child,” Assistant Superintendent of Lowndes County Schools Troy Davis told The Valdosta Daily Times. “In education, the goal is to truly learn the material rather than simply earn a grade.”

The Atlanta Journal Constitution has an excerpt from the new grade guide:

All children will be given the opportunity to learn and redo assignments, especially if a child makes a failing grade. Daily grades and test grades are included. If your child scores below 70 percent, the teacher is to re-teach the standard using a variety of resources, including technology. After the intervention/reteaching, the teacher is to reassess, and your child will receive the higher grade attained — not an average of the two assessments or assignments. Reassessment is required once for all children scoring below 70 percent on assignments used for grading purposes. We want all children to improve. Even, a child scoring above 70 percent should be afforded an opportunity to improve as well. Additional reassessments for all children are at the discretion of the teacher and/or school administration.Zeros are unacceptable. Teachers are to give your child an I (Incomplete) for work not turned in and are to insist that the assignment is completed. Zeros will not be used. If your child consistently scores below 70 percent, the teacher is to contact you and arrange for a conference. Teachers should seek help in determining what other resources are available to help your child, including — but not limited to — academic coaches, team leaders, grade chairs, counselors, administration, or the Response to Intervention process (i.e., classroom modifications, student support team, special education). Teachers are required to communicate often and well with you, and grades are expected to be posted to the Parent Portal grade book no less than once per week.

The debate around no-zero policies goes various ways. Supporters say it forces teachers to coach students through material until mastery, versus ending a lesson with a test, which a student may fail but not have an opportunity to thoroughly learn it at his own pace. Critics frustrated with these policies argue that it allows students to skirt responsibility and when a student simply refuses to commit to learning or complete assignments, there’s little a teacher can do.

“How else do adolescents learn that there are consequences for failure to comply with assignments?” AJC’s Maureen Downey writes.“In the classroom, it is a zero. In the workplace, it is termination.

In a statement issued Saturday, Lowndes County Schools Superintendent E. Steven Smith said much of the controversy surrounding the new grading guidelines stems from miscommunication and misunderstanding.

(Full Story)



One response

20 02 2012

And this is why I left Merced to go to grad school, rather than stay and get hired on at MHS.Well, not this particularly, but this kind of redonkulous redonkulousness.

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