Rubrics and No-zeros

Rubrics and No-zeros

In this weeks class I took away three important ideas. Continuing on from last week, we are still working on the rubric for our unit plans. I like rubrics and I think they are very beneficial for students (they can see exactly what is wanted) but man, they are a pain in the butt to create. You think you’ve figured it out so you put it to the side and then you come back to and it’s still not finished. When you build rubrics you have to be very specific but also measurable. The problem that arose during class was for the I Can statements and difference between consistently, generally and occasional. I think there is a different between these words but how do you measure it. Is consistently 4/5, generally 3/5 and occasionally 2/5? But what if someone doesn’t have 5 I Can Statements how does it work for them? I found this nifty website about the pros and cons of using rubrics in the classroom. I just want to highlight some interesting points from it that I didn’t think of until reading it. Sometimes students learn more from rubrics than from a grade, like what were the teachers expectation. Another one is that it allows the students to see their strengths and weaknesses and helps them improve in the areas they need. A teacher can adapt/modify rubrics to fit the individual needs of students and when it is shared with the students it can be motivational. I agree that these are all benefits of rubrics but there was con that I had to question. They say a con is that students may ask for rubrics for all assignments, because students like to know what is expected and how to achieve high marks. I’m not sure this is con because don’t you want your students to do their best?

The last thing we did this week was to discuss in our staff groups was whether or not our school would use no-zeros. This worked out perfectly because we had to do some research for case studies and one was about no-zeros. Honestly, if you would have asked me a couple years ago I would have said something along the line of “that’s outrageous you have to give zeros to students who don’t hand in work, no job will allow students to be late with work. We’re setting them up for failure.” Back to the present, I can now see the benefits for not giving zeros. I think there is miscommunications as to why a school would implement this. From my own research and the article we read in class it seems that people think that when schools use the no-zero policy that it allows students to just not do the work but that’s not the case. Most schools that use a no-zero policy have some sort of plan set up for when students don’t hand in their work. It could like the Incomplete Assignment Form from the article or it could be simply setting up extra work periods (lunch hours, study hall, after school etc.) for the students to go and do homework.

The Problem with Penalties by Myron Dueck gives reasons has to why a “penalty” doesn’t work. The one reason that really made me think was about care, so the “penalty” has to mean something to the students. Unfortunately some students would rather take a zero instead of doing any work. With the no-zero policy it makes the student take responsibility for their work and actually do it. Some people would argue that allowing students to hand in work late doesn’t teach them to be responsible, when they have a job they can’t hand in work late. But I read an counter argument on a blog or article, I can’t remember exactly what it was, but basically it said that employer can’t take a “pay cut” or “zero” just because they don’t want to do the work, so why should we allow students to? What our group and I really liked was the Incomplete Assignment Form that was used in the article (like I said above; we really like it). It basically was form that the student filled out if they didn’t hand in an assignment on time. It asks reason for missing the due date, when they expect it be completed and if they needed support to complete it. I think this is a really interesting way because it helps the teacher see what needs to be done to help the student.

I don’t think I would give zeros in my class unless it was an ABSOLUTE last resort. I do think that students need to see consequences for actions but a zero can really hurt their grade. I would rather try to help and support the student instead of just giving them a zero. What is your opinion on no-zeros?


2 thoughts on “Rubrics and No-zeros

  1. Yes rubrics are nifty they are just like you said hard to pin point things as a 3 or 4 out of five. Thats why i believe in 3.5’s and 4.75’s. One thing I am wondering is how would you use a rubric in Math? Like what type of projects would this be? I come from the do all odd letters from 1 to 20 in the textbook school, so I am interested.


  2. Just like in your science classes we are trying to move away from questions 1 to 20 but more of an inquiry approach. For this class my partner and I created two rubrics, one for journal writing that have them doing as well they are creating a game themselves. So there is a lot of ways to use rubrics in math it is just not as common.


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