Step 2 A: The Case Against the Zero

The Case Against the Zero

Read the above article.  Then, in the below comment section, answer the question:

What problems with traditional K-12 grading practices does this article raise?  

Please be sure to cite one phrase, sentence, or chunk of text as supporting evidence.

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1,190 thoughts on “Step 2 A: The Case Against the Zero

  1. Lina Akleh says:

    The Case Against the Zero by Reeves is an interesting article that raises some problems with traditional K-12 grading practices. One of the most important ones is it can lead a student to drop out of high school and ruins the student’s future without being aware of it! The author said,Just two or three zeros are sufficient to cause failure for an entire semester, and just a few course failures
    can lead a student to drop out of high school, incurring a lifetime of personal and social consequences.

    “Another problem with the traditional k-12 grading practices that it is not mathematically correct! It is not accurate! According to the author, he said,”But the common use of the zero today is based not on a four-point scale but on a 100-point scale. This defies logic and mathematical accuracy. On a 100-point scale, the interval between numerical and letter grades is typically 10 points, with the break points at 90, 80, 70, and so on. But when the grade of zero is applied
    to a 100-point scale, the interval between the D and F is not 10 points but 60
    points.”

    Like

  2. Shane Riddle says:

    This article has made me think deeper about giving students a 0 for work that isn’t completed. I’ve been in the habit of not giving students a 0 when they’re already failing because, as the article states, it’s so challenging to dig out of the hole a 0 puts students in. I am also intrigued by using a 4-3-2-1-0 grading system.

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  3. F. Ramos says:

    The article The Case Against Zero by Douglass B. Reeves. The author points out two problems. Giving a zero on a 100 points scale for missing work is a mathematical inaccuracy and grading should not be use as a punishment but rather as a teaching tool. I agree with the author in that if a zero is going to be given for incomplete assignments a four- point grading scale makes more sense. “It is fair, accurate, and, some people may believe, motivational. But at least the zero on a four-point scale is not the mathematical travesty that it is when applied to a 100-point system.” In addition, our duty as educators should be teaching the whole child

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  4. N Strickland says:

    Doug Reeves makes the case against the zero in essence by stating that any score under a zero would pull down the whole average grade of the student for that subject. It truly makes no sense. Grading on a 4 point scale makes more sense, as when we calculate grade point averages, we’re converting the letter grade on a 4 point scale anyways.

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  5. Irene Maliwan says:

    I am a product of the 100 percent/point era. I don’t think I really gave much thought to the idea of the gap between the fail at 0 and the fail at 50%. This article points to the disparity in the 100 percent/point system of grading. When phrased a different way and asked to grade on a scale of 4 to 0 I agree that a minus 6 is ridiculous. “…I’ll bet not a single person arrived at the answer “minus 6.”” I know that a -6 doesn’t make sense. But I personally am not ready to switch over to the 4 point scale yet.

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  6. Joshara Fletcher says:

    I agree with the article. I have set missing work as 50% for years. I don think the purpose of academic grades is to punish students. The role is to show their achievements towards mastering the standards.

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  7. K. Navarrete says:

    The article speaks to the 100 point scale being unfair to our students due to withdrawing more points than necessary. It brings up a good point regarding students losing motivation when grades drop after missing a couple of assignments. Mathematically students lose more points than the minimum value of an F on a particular assignment.

    “Just two or three zeros are sufficient to cause failure for an entire semester, and just a few course failures can lead a student to drop out of high school, incurring a lifetime of personal and social consequences.”

    Like

  8. C. Mirzoyan says:

    According to Reeves the common use of the zero today is based on a 100-point scale, which is a mathematical inaccuracy. When using a 100-point system the mathematically accurate value of an F is 50. If using a four-point grading system, one could give a 0.

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  9. F. Montes says:

    “Just two or three zeros are sufficient to cause fail- ure for an entire semester, and just a few course failures can lead a student to drop out of high school, incurring a lifetime of personal and social consequences.” Based on a 100 point traditional scale, this has been one of the most eye-popping notions that has caused me to drastically rethink my grading and thus, fully embrace Mastery Learning. I look back on my teaching tenure and think of all of the students that really should have passed class but due to my antiquated grading practices they were hurt unfairly.

    Please be sure to cite one phrase, sentence, or chunk of text as supporting evidence.

    Like

  10. Paytsar Sasunyan says:

    The interval for an F is 6 times greater than that for any other grade so at some point it becomes nearly impossible for a failing student to improve his grade causing him/her to give up. According to the article, “…grades of zero on a 100-point scale last forever. Just two or three zeros are sufficient to cause failure for an entire semester, and just a few course failures can lead a student to drop out of high school, incurring a lifetime of personal and social consequences”. We should not be giving F (on a 100 point scale) as punishment for missing work. If we want to cause a change in student work habits and academic performance, then the punishment should fit the crime: either give 50/100 points or 0/4 on a four-point system.

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  11. Ryan Pool says:

    Reeves notes, “when the grade of zero is applied to a 100 point scale, the interval the D and F is not 10 points, but 60 points”. This is why I feel a 4 point scale is a better grading system. The gulf between zero and sixty is too wide and has far to large of an impact on grading.

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  12. Reeves says, “research that asserts that grading as punishment is an ineffective strategy….” is hard to accept for many teachers. When I 1st used an on-line grading system I wondered why just 2 assignments missing created a “D” and usually,
    3 missing meant my student would legitimately earn an “F”. Frankly, I had my eyes opened by this article. Even so I have resisted. Clearly, connecting my grading to my teaching students about Mindset theory needs more work.

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  13. Poly Gabriela says:

    Students give up when they receive zeros on assignments. This lowers students motivation to do the work. Just a couple of zeros will affect a students overall grade.

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  14. Poly Peralta says:

    First thoughts were that someone does not turn in an assignment should receive a zero, which in many cases is the same as someone doing the assignment and not meeting the standards. However, placing these two situations in the same range of the zero, does not allow a student to show what they might know about the subject they are being taught for that unit. This really shows when using the standard 100 point system, someone who received a 59% would have a fail which usually is marked as a zero. The student receives no value for what he knows,and he does does not see any opportunity to show growth.
    Also, the idea of failing to turn in work on, ” a grading scale of 4, 3, 2, 1, 0, but I’ll bet not a single person arrived at the answer “minus 6.” Yet that is precisely the logic that is employed when the zero is awarded on a 100-point scale.” is some level of taking thing to extremes. I think that educators are left with what do i do with missing assignments are left no course, but to give that assignment a zero/no value.
    Maybe there could be some value for the fail, so student see that no matter what is turned in will recorded with some value.

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  15. Poly – Javier Rios
    Honestly an eye opening article. As an educator you have to think about the equity in grading. This is something that I have struggled with for a long time. Trying to find the right balance in grading can be a nightmare. I can see how going back to the 4 point system can work even if one needs “greater specificity”.

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  16. Miriam A Gonzalez says:

    As Reeves stated “grading as punishing is an ineffective strategy” because students that have difficulties learning and applying any concepts or knowledge many times do not even try to do or complete an assignment especially if they already have one or more zeros. They become so numb to their effect that they prefer to give up. This article also reminds me of how a zero can be devastating or motivating, at least for me when I was in school it was motivating when I had a lower than expected grade, however it has not been the case with most of my students.

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  17. Alexandra Hohmann says:

    This is at least the second time I have seen this article in my career. My first year of teaching, I would give zeroes. By the end of the year, I was stunned at how poorly some of the students did, not fully realizing the impact a zero can have on an already low grade. This quote stood out to me: “Just two or three zeros are sufficient to cause failure for an entire semester, and just a few course failures
    can lead a student to drop out of high school, incurring a lifetime of personal and social consequences.” Considering the populations we teach, this is not an overstatement. We want to give the students a chance to attain proficiency, not punish simply to punish.

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  18. Xochilt Lockett says:

    According to Reeves, “when the grade of zero is applied to a 100 point scale, the interval the D and F is not 10 points, but 60 points” what this means is that when a teacher inputs a 0 for a missing assignment as simple as just 1 H.W. assignment the student is highly affected and their grade can drop tremendously affecting the students grade point average.

    Like

  19. Matthew Lee says:

    To me, any student that is able to turn in an assignment should receive SOME credit for the effort that they put into completing the assignment (even if the student got every single question incorrect). Giving a zero on an assignment tells the student that their work literally has no value and that their effort (even if it was their best effort) isn’t worth anything. This also has a much longer-lasting effect on the student because of the traditional way of determining final grades by finding the average of points a student has earned. “Just two or three zeros are sufficient to cause failure for an entire semester, and just a few course failures can lead a student to drop out of high school, incurring a lifetime of personal and social consequences.”

    Like

  20. Hugo Sandoval says:

    A student receiving a zero makes it almost impossible for them to earn a passing grade. If we want to help students, we must give them a grade that is proportional to the letter grades.

    Like

  21. Nicole Niederdeppe says:

    The “zero” unfairly penalizes students simply because of the span of the traditional 100-point grading scale. 0-59 being an “F” is far more ground to cover than any of the other traditional 10-point spans. Thus, a “zero” on one assignment early in the semester can severely impact a child’s ability to pass the course, even if s/he submits high-quality work at a later point.

    Like

  22. Kenneth Zubiate says:

    The article points out the unusually harsh punishment some students receive when they do not turn in assignments and get a zero. When simply averaged, these zeroes can create far too drastic an impact on the student’s overall grade. This type of a practice is more a gauge of a student’s work habits than mastery of the subject matter. I do think there are some instances where a zero would be an appropriate grade, though compiling a litany of zeroes through missed homework assignments, lack of notes, etc. can unfairly punish a student who may need help with subject matter, time management, or other extenuating circumstances that could be better addressed outside of the grading format. Work habits are meaningful, but shouldn’t care such a heavy weight in the overall grade.

    Like

  23. Meghan Truax says:

    “Readers were asked earlier how many points would be awarded to a student who failed to turn in work on a grading scale of 4, 3, 2, 1, 0, but I’ll bet not a single person arrived at the answer “minus 6.” Yet that is precisely the logic that is employed when the zero is awarded on a 100-point scale.” This shows how inappropriate it is to give 0s when the scale is out of 100, since a student who turned in failing level work would receive a crazy amount more credit than a student who forgot to turn the assignment in. It also prevents students from feeling like they have the potential to pass because their overall grade is so low.

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  24. shekiba says:

    I have never been a fan of zero and I have ever given an Zero it is because the student literally told me that they were not going to do the assignment and refused. In this case I don’t waste anytime communicating with the parents because the assessment was a way of communicating with me students ability to understand the learning target so without performing then everything I designed and planned for learning went in vein and I don’t want that to be the learning experience for any student. A zero is so negative and discouraging. I always inform my students that we can talk later about the assessment and providing the student with the space needed to help determine the correct time to assess with the guardians support.

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  25. Bryan Ramos says:

    The problem with traditional K-12 grading practices is that a fail have a big range from 0 to 59 points (assuming you do a 100 point scale). Other grades such as A, B, C, even D only have a 10 point range. If a person gets a zero, it’s harder for the person to bring up their grades if they’re doing the traditional grading system.

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  26. Joshara Fletcher says:

    I was in one of my credential classes when a professor argued against the zero grade, many years ago. His argument made perfect sense to me so I don’t give zeros. I put in a special symbol for missing (mi) which I set up as 50 percent. But I think the author’s argument for a 4 point scale is better because on a 100 point scale a student can turn in the work and earn less than 50. So if i give a student a 50 for a missing assignment he/she can come out ahead. I my mindset on grading could use an overhaul. I really agree with the idea that we need to move away from grading as punishment. “The appropriate consequence for failing to complete an assignment is to require the student to complete the assignment,” this true if our purpose is to educate and not punish.

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  27. Janice Lopez says:

    The article raises question to the traditional 100 point grade scale as being problematic, as it gives students a zero for failure to turn in work, which places the student at an excessive deficit, but does not indicate student comprehension of concepts and or mastery. The author proposes the use of 0-4 grading as a possible scale.

    Like

  28. Lynn Brown says:

    One striking problem with the traditional K-12 grading practice is the drastic and detrimental blow to a students GPA for one missing assignment. Reeves (2004) noted “when the grade of zero is applied to a 100-point scale, the interval between the D and F is not 10 point but 60 points” (p. 324). This makes me question the validity of the 100-point scale…does our students’ grade truly reflect the content knowledge and skill we are assessing? I think not – not if we are including zeros for missing homework, assignments and late work.
    I am definitely motivated to reconsider my grading practices.

    Like

  29. Teachers have defaulted to “zero” when an assignment isn’t done. The grading programs encourage this. Or we can leave the field blank. Either way the grade does not reflect accurately the student performance. At the end of term I typically have to make adjustments to the numbers based on qualitative data (ie reflections).

    Agree that “the appropriate consequence for failing to complete an assignment is to require the student to complete the assignment. “
    So my response to students is “complete the assignment” and it will be scored (eventually) based on the quality of your work.

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  30. Clay Landon says:

    In the article, “The Case Against Zero,” I don’t know whether to feel guilty or angry. I guess a little of both. I’m guilty of grading in a fixed, punishing way but I didn’t know any better and when I asked for help, I was most often met with something best described as vaguely hostile condescension. “Evidence to the contrary notwithstanding, there is an almost fanatical belief that punishment through grades will motivate students.” I’ve worked in television and sales so I know a little something about fanatical belief and believe me, there is nothing more fanatical in teaching right now (and over the course of many years) than the belief that grades should be used in a fixed, punishing way. It’s ugly and I don’t see it changing.

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  31. Micaela Mesino says:

    One problem with traditional K-12 grading practices this article raises is “…two or three zeros are sufficient to cause failure for an entire semester, and just a few course failures can lead a student to drop out of high school, incurring a lifetime of personal and social consequences.”
    As an educator, I want all my students to be graded “fairly” and hope that the grade given measures their proficiency. DOUGLAS B. REEVES does make me reconsider from including zeros in my grading system.

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  32. Dorothy Cox says:

    The author reminds the readers that the school culture is based on a mathematical out-of-balance grading scale of 100. He supports the idea that the 100 point scale is not fair,appropriate nor mathematically accurate and this system punishes students in several ways.
    He prefers the point systems of 1-4. In his proposed system, the student that would have receive a flat -out F on an assignment with a 100 scale would have a chance of getting a better grade outcome.

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  33. J. Kelley says:

    This article brings up many important points about our ( current ) grading system. He assumes that all teachers are trying to punish students by giving them a failing grade. I don’t believe this is correct. However, the most important aspect of this article is the 60 point difference between 0 and a passing score of 60. The other grade levels—- A, B, C, D— only have a ten point ( or 10% ) difference between them. How do students make up for missed assignments ( for which the receive a 0 ) with this current system. It becomes almost impossible to correct their mistakes.

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  34. Marisa Winokur says:

    By giving a student a zero in a traditional grading scale you are in a sense punishing the students and setting them up for failure in that course and for life. The author states that “The first, and most important, is to determine the appropriate consequence or students who fail to complete an assignment. The most common answer is to punish these students”. As educators we need to work with our students and help them achieve in school and in life.

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  35. NIcole Bloom says:

    The phrase that really struck me when I read this article was “Readers were asked earlier how many points would be awarded to a student who failed to turn in work on a grading scale of 4, 3, 2, 1, 0, but I’ll bet not a single person arrived at the answer “minus 6.” Yet that is precisely the logic that is employed when the zero is awarded on a 100-point scale.” After teaching for several years, a teacher of mine from high school was talking to me about grades and mentioned that he converted grades into a 4-point scale because he found it to be a more “fair” method of grading since GPA will convert the grades to 4.0 anyways. When I heard that, it really struck me how using a 100-point scale and giving a zero makes it impossible for children to ever improve their grade, to the point that I would not be surprised if they give up and cease to even try to learn in the class because they would never be able to pass.

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  36. mcecil says:

    In this article, the authors demonstrate that zeroes in a traditional 100-point scale disproportionately penalizes students who are given this grade. As they say, it’s like giving students a -6 on a 4-point scale. When teachers use zeroes to punish (e.g., late work earns a zero), the punishment doesn’t fit the crime.

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  37. Azniv Shahmelikian says:

    Giving 0 for any work and keep counting in the average even the student made a huge progress on the rest of the course, will put him or her in a wrong level as a student.

    Like

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