"Zero" grades in school are excessive

November 3, 2013 

It’s supposed to strike fear into the heart of a student: “You’re going to get a zero if the work isn’t done ...”

But often the threat doesn’t get results, and when it’s carried out, the student can be ruined for the year in that particular course.

Sure, students goof up, and sometimes they intentionally break the rules. But does a violation justify a devastating penalty? A zero explodes a student’s average and makes it too hard to get back to passing.

The Wake County school board, at the urging of some of Superintendent Jim Merrill’s administrators, will consider an overhaul of the grading policy that might include eliminating zeros as grades because of the damage they cause.

School board member Tom Benton, a longtime principal and former teacher, said, “A power of a zero on a 100-point scale is a killer. Our kids can’t recover from that.” Benton is a common-sense fellow, and his wisdom should guide this decision. He knows what he’s talking about.

The board can easily change this, and should, perhaps going with administrators who think a 50, still a severe penalty, should be the lowest grade..

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