This morning the story of an Alberta teacher who rejects a “no zero” assessment policy caught my attention. I suspect there might be more to the story than meets the eye, but the policy in question isn’t, from my ancillary connection to hundreds of K-12 teachers (as their teacher).
I find “no zero” policies problematic, particularly after the early primary years. In addition to subject matter understanding, part of summative assessment in K-12 schooling serves to prepare citizens. And part of citizenship–“being a grown up” as Mom used to hammer into us–is to meet intellectual, interpersonal and (eventually) professional standards. Submitting work to a certain standard is important: submitting something should be an obvious requirement for any possibility of a passing grade.
As children develop, understanding the importance of making an effort, doing one’s best, and completing tasks in an acceptable timeframe all gain greater prominence. We are already getting students here at UBC who bristle at being held to due dates for assignments, for following explicit submission instructions, and for having to work within clear and structured participation requirements for learning activities. Thankfully I’ve not yet encountered this ethos among colleagues. I certainly wouldn’t countenance it amongst my own team.
Or am I too old skool, yo? Thoughts?