The January/February 2008 Speaking Out article addresses whether or not to give students a zero grade for an incomplete or missing assignment. The author of the current article believes that students should never receive zeros because it results in loss of learning, lower motivation, and, ultimately, failure. As such, she helped implement a school program in which students are given after-school opportunities to complete missing assignments, requiring them to earn a grade on all their schoolwork.

Do you agree that zeros should be eliminated from grading scales? What methods have you found effective in decreasing student failure while maintaining integrity of student grades and learning? Speak out and let us know what you think!

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re: Should Zeros Be Permitted?

A grade of 0 is not appropriate. In today's digital classrooms in which grades are calculated using web-based or other digital software, assigning 0 to an assignment creates an unfair mathematical calculation. A score of 59% does the same thing as a zero and still allows the student to mathematically "get their act together" without undue "penalty." If a 10% per day deduction was used in addition for each day the assignment was late, the teacher can still account for the embedded curriculum (i.e. responsibility).

re: Should Zeros Be Permitted?

My grades are weighted, so typically a zero on a daily assignment is not that significant. We try as educators to work with students every possible way so that zeros do not have to occur, but what happens at the end of the quarter and a teacher is doing the report cards and a student still has not handed an assignment in? I do not believe in giving the student a 59% on something he has not done, for the sake of not giving zeros.

re: Should Zeros Be Permitted?

The premise at the beginning of the article is flawed. If I don't do a project or am late on a report, my boss doesn't say, "Okay, Tom , you don't have to do it." I am still required to do it or suffer the consequences.
My taxes filed late are a different matter altogether. We're talking fines and jail.
So to base the arguement on these is unsound.
It's like going to a job interview scheduled for 9 am and showing up at 9:15, and feeling that that is just okay.
And guess what? That American Airlines flight is not going to wait until you get there to take off. It's gone, baby. Too bad,so sad.
I believe in the idea of after school mandatory homework centers. I believe in Saturday centers that may put some of the onus on parents, because let's face it, if mom and dad don't feel some of the pain as well as the kid, we are just spinning our wheels with any programs to change behavior.
Yeah, zeros are a cause of childrens failure. But by making it too easy on kids in schools, are we really preparing them for the real world, where there is no one going to give them that second, third and even fourth chance to be on time.