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Zero Tolerance for Zeroes

It looks like when it comes to giving zeroes, the Hamilton Southeastern School District has a zero tolerance policy.

According to the student handbook at Fall Creek Intermediate school, if a student doesn’t turn in an assignment, they don’t get a zero.  Instead, according to the policy, “Late or missing work will be indicated in Skyward with a zero or NHI (not handed in) and marked as missing initially until completed.  All work is to be completed unless a teacher utilizes alternative means to assess based on differentiation.  Zeroes are not acceptable.”

Now, before we go any further, I did reach out to HSE but they respectfully declined to come on my radio program, but they did say any parent who had questions could contact them.  I wish they would have sat down and chatted because this policy raises a number of issues.  First of all, in real life, if you don’t turn in your work, you get fired, and on the surface, this policy doesn’t seem to reinforce that message.   And as someone who has taught for 12 years, I know when you have a troubled student and you need to intervene, however, students and families need to know there are consequences for not completing work, and usually that consequence is failure.  If part of the job of school is to prepare students for the real world, this policy seems to take things in the other direction.

We’ve all heard stories about contests where every kid gets a ribbon, or the school system that no longers labels students as “talented and gifted” because it might hurt the self-esteem of other students.  I think these are bad ideas because these policies don’t promote excellence,they promote mediocrity and they really don’t help kids in the long run.

It would be nice, if we lived in a world where you didn’t have to give zeroes, but unfortunately we do.  And some days those zeroes can act as a wake up call.     There shouldn’t be a zero tolerance policy for zeroes.

  • malercous

    In the 1970’s when I was in H.S. apparently the local school district had a policy that if a student attended class, they’d pass. I was not interested in school then, mostly because I was high on weed everyday, all day. In some classes we even smoked pot, clandestinely of course. We even had a smoking lounge for students & we smoked pot there too.

    I never made plans for graduation since I didn’t figure I’d graduate. Then one day near the end of my sentence, I got a diploma in the mail, much to my surprise. Note that my school district has been one of the best in IL for well over 40 years: we can’t stop people from moving here because it’s so good.

    BTW; years later I aced college & graduated law school too. I was the older, long-haired guy who sat on the other side of the room & a few rows back from you Abdul. We’ve had several classes together & have talked personally. I would have been voted “Most likely to do prison time” & you would have been voted “Most likely to be investigated for an ethics violation.” I have yet to be even indicted, but you…well, I’m glad you’re doing good now.

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    It’s a shame for this school that they weren’t able to follow some simple implementation regarding on that kind of action if their student cannot be able to submit their assignments.