Students who do not hand in assignments at Lindsay Thurber Comprehensive High School may receive a “reluctant zero” for not doing any work.
This is a different approach to the “no zeros” policy in the Edmonton Public School District that made headlines last week when a teacher was suspended for handing a student a zero mark and going against the district’s “no zero” policy.
The Red Deer Public School District does not have a district wide “zero mark” policy but allows each school to determine their own course of action when it comes to giving the zero grade on assignments. In most cases, the zero grade is a last resort.
“A student can earn a zero at the school but they have to work at earning a zero,” said Lindsay Thurber principal Jim Clevette.
“In other words they have to be very reluctant to hand in the assignment and not complete the assignment.”
Each department within the high school has their own procedure and time lines for giving zeros.
Generally when a student does not hand in an assignment on time, parents are contacted and a consequence like a detention or study hall is enacted.
The student is given a “no response” or “NR” mark when they fail to hand in an assignment.
The assignment still counts as a zero but parents and students know as long as the NR is there they have the ability to make up that assignment.
“The student knows where their mark stands with a zero,” said Clevette. “They also know they have the ability to make up that assignment and hand it in.”
Other school divisions in Central Alberta also do not have a no-zero policy including the Red Deer Catholic Regional Schools and like the public district prefer to give a zero grade as a last resort.
Supt. Paul Mason said their policy does not forbid a teacher for giving a zero grade.
“However, it’s not an issue that we contend with because the division uses a learning outcome based assessment system,” said Mason.
“It’s important to not mix student behaviour with knowledge. A student may have behaviour issues, like not handing in assignments, but that doesn’t mean that he or she does know the material.”
Mason said there are many procedures in place that don’t let the students get away with doing nothing. These would include working with parents and requiring students to finish assignments after regular school hours. The division policy is to do everything and anything it takes for students to learn.
“We ask ourselves, ‘What would Jesus do?’ Give students a zero mark? I don’t think so,” said Mason.
“We fail as a learning institution if we don’t keep trying again and again to impart knowledge to our each and every student.”