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"No zero policy" would lower school standards

Taking zero out of the equation | June 29, story

Don't lower school standards

I am appalled by the "no zero policy" that Hernando County school superintendant Wayne Alexander is promoting to the School Board. At a time when our society is trying to raise educational standards, instituting a practice that will significantly lower them seems terribly counterproductive. We already have students who pass their grade level but don't pass the FCAT. The "no zero policy" would only exacerbate that embarrassing problem.

If students don't have to do much work or pay attention in order to pass, they certainly won't be learning much — except that society doesn't expect much from them. Do we really want students graduating from our schools who can't keep a job because they believe they should be paid 40 percent of their wages for doing nothing?

In the Times article, Douglas Reeves is quoted as saying teachers give zeroes as a punishment. A zero is not a punishment. It's a consequence, and part of education is learning consequences for your decisions and actions. Choosing to sleep or throw spit wads in class instead of doing your assignment means you get a zero. If you later come to your senses, you talk to your teacher and discuss your options. Many schools already have a policy that allows students to turn in late work for partial credit and to retake failed tests. This is a lot of extra work for the teachers, but teachers do want to help students.

The truth is that the "no zero policy" will be a detriment to our students and our entire society. Dr. Alexander will be leaving as soon as he finds a job up North. In the meantime, the School Board should not be persuaded to adopt such a dangerous and nonsensical practice.

Donna Depinet-Dasher, Spring Hill

Taking zero out of the equation June 29, story

Grade to assess,

not punish students

Kudos to "no zeros." I hope the Hernando County School Board will press ahead, include the secondary schools in the policy, and lead the charge for other districts.

The question about grades lies in their purpose. Why do we give them? If the purpose is punishment and punishment is about inflicting pain, then zeros are appropriate. If the purpose of grading is to give us an assessment of what students know or have learned, we need to rethink the zeros. If a student is given (earns) a 50 percent on an assignment — they still have an F and we haven't "given" them anything. No one is going to be confused that a score of 50 out of 100 is a passing grade. However, as your article pointed out, one zero can wipe out many A's.

On a 4-point scale (which is how we calculate class grades) if a student earns an F on one assignment and an A on the next, the average grade becomes a C. Fair enough. If a student earns a zero on one assignment and a 100 on the next, the average is a 50, or an F. What sense does that make? Let's use grades for assessment of learning, not punishment!

Connie Kolosey, St. Petersburg

Taking zero out of the equation June 29, story

Laughable policy

Whatever happened to challenging our kids in school? The proposal by the Hernando County School Board that would eliminate a zero grade is laughable. Allowing a kid to get a 40 percent score and not even turn in an assignment — what are we thinking? What's next — a passing score for everyone who shows up?

The Hernando School Board must be trying to make school like T-ball, where every kid gets a trophy regardless of how they do.

Jeff Helminski, Hudson

Zero effort, zero grade

I don't understand why the student who did nothing shouldn't have that lack of effort reflected in the grade equivalent of nothing. The teacher can always give the student another opportunity to do the work and improve his overall grade.

I suppose after that student enters the work force he will expect 40 percent of his pay when he fails (excuse the harsh language) to show up for work.

Tom Rodgers, Tierra Verde

A costly outing limits fans in the stands | June 28, letter

Deals can be had

The Tampa Bay Rays do so much to help make the games an affordable experience for a family. The letter writer complains about the $15 parking (Bucs' parking is $25). Couldn't she find friends to go with her? A carload of four lets her park free. There are also numerous lots for $5 within easy walking distance.

She complains about paying $90 for a ticket. You don't have to sit in Row 4 to enjoy a game. Then she complains the $10 ticket is too far away. There are great seats at the Trop in the $17-$44 range. She also complains about the price of food. The Rays allow you to bring in your own food and drink. If the letter writer had bought $17 seats, parked for free, and brought her own food that would have been $34 for two.

Jerlyn Shaw, Tampa

Plane facts

I do not understand the St. Petersburg Times' media uproar over the use of state planes by politicians.

For whatever bizarre reason, Florida chose to locate its capital in a remote and inaccessible part of the state. Ever try to fly, much less commute, to Tallahassee?

If we are to attract even average people to serve, we'd better lighten up on the aircraft issue. We have bigger ones to deal with.

Richard W. Cope, Clearwater

"No zero policy" would lower school standards 06/30/09 [Last modified: Tuesday, June 30, 2009 7:50pm]
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