I am one member of a five person board. The opinions I express on this forum are mine only, and do not necessarily reflect the views or opinions of the Escambia County Staff, Administrators, Employees, or anyone else associated with Escambia County Florida. I am interested in establishing this blog as a means of additional transparency to the public, outreach to the community, and information dissemination to all who choose to look. Feedback is welcome, but because public participation is equally encouraged, appropriate language and decorum is mandatory.

Monday, April 20, 2015

No Zero Grading Part VII: A Break for Students, or Breaking School Board Rules?

This past Friday morning, the School Board had a thorough discussion of “no zero grading” practices.  The discussion was interesting.  My issue, as I have discussed here via numerous posts, is that the system could potentially reward some students who did not do their work, and could result in disparate treatment of students, as Attorney Donna Waters stated at the meeting when she said:

“the practice of no-zero grading becomes more problematic when multiple grades are combined for a course, semester, or other average. To illustrate, assume two students in a class which has a project and an exam which are equally weighted as the only two grades assigned in a semester. Each makes an 98 on the semester exam, but does not turn in the assigned project.  Student A attends a school which adheres strictly to the grading scale in the SPP; he receives a 49% [calculated as (98 + 0)/2] and fails the class. Student B, in a no-zero-grading school, receives a 50% on the project and a 74% final grade [or (98 + 50)/2] and passes the class. Thus, there could be very serious consequences of such a non-uniform grading system.”

The unanimous consensus at the meeting was that teachers should have wide latitude and great flexibility in the way they assign grades to their individual students—they know their students better than anyone else in the schools.  This is important-- and like the Geico commercials--- everybody knows this.

Even still-several Florida districts unabashedly practice this policy--even though it appears to be at odds with state mandated grading scales.

Judging from the discussion at our workshop--I do not believe the Escambia County School Board would ever embrace this sort of a grading scheme institutionally.

Because giving students nothing below a “50” becomes problematic legally if it is practiced as an unwritten rule at some schools.  It is even more problematic if  “no zeros” grading is dictated to teachers by administrators.  Or even if this practice is “strongly suggested” It is wrong. It is social promotion, and we should all oppose this practice as it does nobody any good.

According to Superintendent Thomas- “This would be inappropriate”  

An analysis of 200 7th Grade report cards that I requested from one middle school indicated that 76% of all “F” Grades were exactly “50” or higher.  25% of these “F” grades were exactly “50.”
Because of this, and because I have been contacted by teachers who have stated they have been told to round grades up at the reporting period, I remain concerned this could be happening.  My concern grew when my counterpart from District 4, Patty Hightower, stated at the Friday meeting that:

“I have been called by teachers from one of my middle schools in the past, and these teachers have said they were told they could not fail a student, students were not allowed to receive a failing grade”

Because of these continuing concerns–I have requested an additional 500 Middle School report cards from two different schools in our district.  I requested to receive these by close of business today.

I’m hoping that an analysis of these additional report cards will settle this matter once and for all;  I’m hoping I do not see in this new batch an irregular number of “F” grades, particularly in the first part of the year, landing exactly on “50.”

We will see.


Anonymous said...

I am looking forward to viewing the videos of the workshops this month. Why is no video of 2/18 workshop available on the school board web site?

Jeff Bergosh said...

Although this meeting was a public meeting, it was held in the Superintendent's conference room, where there are no cameras. That is why there is no video. There were notes taken, and minutes will eventually be produced and posted, detailing the events of this special workshop.

Anonymous said...

All you had to do is put a camera in there!