Ken O’Connor: Give ‘I’s’ instead of zeros

May 7, 2014 

Regarding the May 5 news article “ Schools to discuss policy on zeros”: I object strongly to the misrepresentation of my grading principles. The main reason for not giving zeros is that giving a student a zero says to the student “now you don’t have to do the work,” which is the opposite of accountability and responsibility.

The article also failed to mention that I advocate that the best approach to missing work is to make use of an “I” grade for incomplete and then require the student to get it done. Late is better than not at all. However, if the school board is not willing to allow schools to use incomplete as a grade, then zeros should not be allowed as they are mathematically wrong and motivationally devastating.

No-zero policies are not gimmicks. If schools use a percentage scale with a 60 percent cut for pass/fail, it is unethical and unprofessional to use zeros.

Ken O’Connor

Toronto, Canada

The writer is an education consultant and the author of the book “A Repair Kit for Grading: 15 Fixes for Broken Grades.”

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