In my Standards-Based Grading post three weeks ago, Anon Y. Mous asked that I explain the rationale behind each of the core guidelines involved in the S.B.G. system. I think it’s a good suggestion and here is the ninth core guideline. Please comment with any corrections as I am still learning this new system. 🙂
When grading many have popularly disagreed with the notion of the zero. Some argue that it’s mathematically skewing while others say that a zero does not show that no learning has occurred, only that there is no evidence of learning (meaning a zero is unwarranted).
Previously, I had posted this:
Zeroes are not mathematically just. When looking at mathematical formulas, a zero (on a 100 point scale) is an overwhelmingly unfair measure. Zeroes should be counted as 50% when considering grades. Using a GPA scale this makes sense because each grade is a factor of 1 (4 = A, 3 = B, 2 = C, 1 = D, and 0 = F). On a 100 point scale the F range is 60 points versus the 10% each other grade receives.
Also, I have posted this:
A zero may be an unfair grade anyway.
The idea of a zero may be wholly unfair when looked at mathematically or statistically (see case_against_zero for an in-depth explanation). Basically, the article shows how a zero may be unfair to a student because of the way it destroys a student’s average and how difficult it is for a student to recover.
Missing assignments, according to the linked statistical analysis, reveals that a 50% for a missing assignment may be more fair to a student. I changed the value of a missing assignment from 0% to 50% after I had finished grades in June, and—because I weight grades—only one grade actually changed (from a C- to a C). For me, making this change in a missing assignment value has a minimal effect, but for others this could have a drastic effect. In any case, eliminating the zero could be more fair to students and help them excel.
After all my talk I have finally tried not using the zero this semester for formative assessments. So far, I have noticed little change except that the ‘A’ and ‘B’ grades have moved a bit higher in percentage (i.e. 85% grades are now 88% grades). However, my grades in the ‘C’ and below ranges are relatively unchanged. I do weight grades, which tells me my weights must be making overall grades somewhat similar to aspects of standards-based grades.
However, I still use zeroes for temporary markers in my grade book. If a student misses a test or project, I put the zero in until the student makes up the assignment. This is more for parents because they see the immediate impact of a missed assignment, and they help me get the students n to make up work.
Well, what do you think about the zero as a grade?