Do Some Students Ever Deserve a Zero?

Do Some Students Ever Deserve a Zero?

According to physics teacher, Lynden Dorval, the answer is yes.  When students do not turn in assignments, their mark should be a zero. Articles in this weekend’s newspapers say that Dorval did not follow the School District policy of a no-zero grading practice.

This policy says that when students have not handed in assignments the teachers must pursue student to arrange for late assignments to be completed. If a student does not turn in his work, his report card will not indicate a zero but rather “unable to evaluate.”

This, despite the fact that these kids may be preparing to go on to post secondary education where no-one will pursue them to ensure that they get the work done.

This, despite the fact that some kids will be heading to a workplace where ignoring work that needs to be done and missing deadlines will lead to firing.

This, despite the fact that these young people are preparing to be responsible and accountable young men and women which means doing what it expected in a timely manner.

This policy is doing nothing to help kids become capable young men and women and we should be outraged.

If you want to talk more about this story just call me, Kathy Lynn at604-258-9074.

Kathy Lynn

Parenting speaker and author of But Nobody Told Me I’d Ever Have to Leave Home: From Toddlers to Teens, How Parents Can Raise Children to Become Capable Adults.



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4 Responses to Do Some Students Ever Deserve a Zero?

  1. Terri Cody says:

    Then these students come to college and expect the instructors to allow them to do what they want and totally expect to pass the course. If assignments are not handed in on time, some students are shocked to discover the grade for that assignment is 0. Some students actually say it isn’t fair that they are expected to do “what is convenient for the teacher”. There are all sorts of rules about timelines in our society whether it is paying bills, handing in reports at work, showing up on time for work (which also shocks some students), being on time for travel and on and on. It scares me that a school system sees their policy as appropriate. What are the students learning?

  2. Kathy, I totally agree. Let’s do a reality check-in. It’s one thing if there’s a reason why it’s not been turned in and when it’s turned in late that reason can be verified by responsible third parties, but it’s quite another when time after time there’s nothing turned in with adequate reason. In real life, there are deadlines and there are consequences, like when you file your taxes late and owe, there’s a penalty. The penalty should be zero. We live in a world where we are required to self-assess, and at the high school level, I believe that’s a life skill that needs to be reinforced early on. Today the Min of Fin released guidelines on how they are going to handle the backlog in Tax Court. Is this what happens when we ‘molly-coddle’? The sense of entitlement that is developing is frightening.

  3. Susan Black says:

    If zero work is turned in, then zero is the only possible grade to be assigned.
    Will a zero hurt the student’s self esteem? If someone actually believes that, what do they think that student would learn about how the world works, if s/he were given some other number even though s/he didn’t do any work?
    Will giving him or her a different number – like 25 or 50 or whatever – teach him or her anything? Sure. It teaches a lesson that is all too common in today’s education climate: coast along, do as little as possible, and everything will be fine. You will pass anyway – because no one “fails” any more. When you get to the workplace, those same rules will be in place for you. Umm. Oh no. That’s wrong. You’ll get fired.
    The fact that this topic has become “news”, just has me shaking my head. The future is scary!

  4. I agree that this policy is foolish, and potentially harmful.

    Have you seen the CBC documentary about what they called “helicopter parents” who don’t teach their kids to stand up for themselves or to accept responsibility for their (in)action(s)?

    It’s very good. The interviewer spoke to college admissions agents and to professors about what the impact of this parenting style on universities. Even employers are affected! (I’m on my iPhone and can’t look it up, but it’s in CBC Doc Zone, I think Jan 2011? (Can’t be 2010…time doesnt go THAt fast, does it?)

    This sounds like an expansion of a hot house philosophy from homes to school boards. I’m a little concerned about what a powerful sense of entitlement could translate into on the streets and in public spaces!


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