What is a “No-Zero” Grading Policy?

Over the last decade, a growing number of school districts have implemented grading systems that ban educators from giving students grades below 50% (this amount can vary from region to region). This type of policy has been given the term “no-zero” grading, and it usually operates like this: If a student finishes an assignment, regardless if it is late or represents low quality, the student still deserves at least a grade of 50, just for their effort.

Educators who support this policy believe that zero grades can put students in too deep in a hole, making it mathematically impossible for them to pass, which may cause them to disengage from the learning process. They believe that you should always give students a grade of at least 50%, so they can feel as though they can catch up. Also, giving a student a grade of zero is an oxymoron of sorts and not an accurate representation of what a child can do academically.

Skeptics, on the other hand, believe that “no-zero” grading policies send the wrong message to students. At the end of the day, “no-zero” grading policies are not an accurate representation of how life works, well at least for most people. In the real world, you have to earn everything you get. Skeptics also believe that “no zero grading” can artificially inflate student grades, which can hide their academic deficiencies and socially promote students who don’t know the material.

What do you think? Are no-zero grading policies a good or bad idea? What would be a better option?




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