School Board to vote on grading practice Oct. 11

Published 9:59 pm Monday, October 3, 2011

FRANKLIN–The Franklin City Public Schools administration on Monday night presented its case to the School Board favoring a no-zero grading practice and got mixed reviews from board members.

The board will either endorse or reject the new grading practice during a 7 p.m. Tuesday, Oct. 11, meeting. Administrators enacted the grading practice, which would give students no less than a 60 percent on assignments and tests, without the board’s knowledge.

In a school board work session to discuss the practice, school officials used published papers and articles — most notably Douglas Reeves’ “The Case Against the Zero”— to make its case.

Associate Director of Instruction Beverly Rabil highlighted the pros to similar practices nationwide and gave some insight into why Franklin administrators agreed to change the scale.

The Reeves article states that on an eight-point grading system where 70 is the lowest grade there are an equal number of ways to get each passing grade, but there are 70 ways to get a failing grade. Also he suggests that a change in the grading scale could prevent dropouts.

Reeves’ article also highlighted the power a grade of zero can have on a student’s overall grade. The article gave an example of a student who made 80s on five out of six tests. The other score, which was zero, resulted in a failing grade for the student.

Rabil also assured board members that a student would not simply get a 60 for an incomplete assignment, but rather would be asked to make up that assignment.

“Educators are charged with making sure students master the contents of a course,” Rabil said. “This is a tremendously challenging, but rewarding task and it’s one we face every day. No teacher is going to let a student get by with doing no work.”

She added that giving a zero on a missed test or assignment doesn’t truly show a teacher a student’s level of mastery in a course.

Board members Glenn Hopkins and Edna King said they felt administrators went about implementing the policy the wrong way and wanted teachers to be more involved.

“They have the eyes in the classrooms,” Hopkins said. “Teachers understand the classroom environment and what’s going on.”

Johnetta Nichols, the only board member to support the grading practice, said she would like students to see their actual grades on tests and assignments before the grade of 60 is recorded. She believes this could serve as a motivational tool.

Board Chairman Bill Scarboro said he doesn’t want the new practice to have a negative impact on students’ futures as they develop and learn to compete in a global economy.

“We are competing vigorously in a global economy and that’s what I want to get our students ready for,” Scarboro said. “Children need to learn to fail.”

Scarboro did applaud school officials for looking at ways to help students succeed.

“I sincerely appreciate what you all are thinking about,” he said. “I know it’s not a silver bullet and the graduation rate will not immediately jump to 99 percent, but maybe it’s a piece of that equation.”