As "no zero" grading gains national attention after a former teacher at West Gate K-8 School in Port St. Lucie spoke publicly about it after writing a goodbye to her students about the policy on her whiteboard, the author behind "The Case Against the Zero" explains why he believes the grading philosophy makes sense.
"The interval between A, B, C, and D is 10, but the interval between D and not turning it in is 60," Dr. Doug Reeves said.
Dr. Reeves published "The Case Against the Zero" in 2004. He said grading systems are a topic of discussion around the world. He believes the current 100-point system is flawed because of the numerical difference between an F grade of 59% and an F grade of 0%.
“I’m actually not calling for a new grading system. I’m calling for an old one," he said.
Dr. Reeves said the 100-point scale is mostly a 20th-century creation. He thinks going back to a general A through F scale or a four-point grade point average scale that has an A as 4 points and an F as zero points would be more fair to students.
"All these controversies would be resolved because you could still give a zero, but it would be a mathematically-accurate zero," he said. "A zero on a four-point scale allows them to recover.”
He said giving students an automatic zero for an assignment they didn't do actually rewards laziness by not forcing them to complete the work and take the time to learn the concepts.
"The real consequence for not turning work in shouldn’t be a zero," he said. "It ought to be doing the darn work. That’s what students need and that’s the most effective consequence that teachers can administer."
Dr. Reeves said there are other consequences schools can employ that can be more effective than zeros as well, including "catch up" Fridays to get the work done, quiet lunches, backpack inspections or mandatory planner reviews.
"I want to be really clear. I’m not about coddling at all. I’m about consequences that matter," he said. "If zeros and F's for missing work were really effective then we’d have 100 percent on-time work because kids are scared to death of zeros, but they’re not."