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Ineffective Grading Policies: An Argument Against Giving Zeros

1363 words - 6 pages

Ineffective Grading Policies

An Argument Against Giving Zero’s

5/2/2014

Bryce Wallace


The basis of my argumentative paper will be to take an in-depth look at ineffective grading practices and the use of zeros as a form of punishment. Since this is something I have personally been faced with, I argue that giving students a zero for missed work, whether it be for missing due to illness or being suspended from school, is ineffective, unfair, and a detriment to students drive, determination, and self-esteem.
Grading practices have been a controversial issue for years among educators. Many educators want to know the true functions of grades (Reeves, 2001). Are they in place to communicate a student’s performance in certain areas, including behavior and participation, or should they represent a student’s proficiency in a given subject? (Hanover, 2011) I personally argue it is the latter. When grades are used as a form of punishment, in my opinion, it takes away the right of the student to get an education.
According to an article by Douglas B. Reeves, he suggests that schools should re-examine and change their grading practices and if they want to immediately reduce student failure rates. He states that schools do not need a new curriculum, a new principal, new teachers, or new technology to reduce failure rates. Instead, he has found they need a better grading system. Guskey and Bailey (2001) and Marzano (2001) have done decades of research with similar findings to those mentioned by Reeves. Unfortunately, neither the weight of scholarship nor common sense seem to influence grading policies in many schools and practices vary greatly among teachers in the same school-and worse, the practices best supported by research are rarely in evidence (Reeves, 2008). Some teachers recognize assigning zeros punishes students academically for behavioral infractions and most believe this type of punishment is justified and deserved (Guskey, 2004). Guskey suggests that teachers use zeros as a source of control. He gives an example that teachers can’t take away things a student values such as their vehicle, their computer, video games, television, or social activities. The one thing teachers can control are a student’s grades and as a student, we are at the mercy of our teachers. I can’t see how this kind of practice is right or fair.
In a research project in 2011 by Hanover, they found that grading policies have a direct effect on the grades that students receive and they found it to be extremely important that schools carefully consider what practices best measure student performance, since the annual cost of high school failure exceeds $330 billion, a cost that better grading policies might be able to help reduce.
Marazano suggests the best grading practices provide accurate, specific, timely feedback designed to improve student performance. In the article by Reeves, he discusses three commonly used grading policies...

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