Friday, June 8, 2012

Fail: How Zeroes Affect Student Performance

You can’t parent every child the same. Almost every book on parenting will tell you that. The same is obviously true for teaching—you can’t teach every student in the same way because every child learns differently.

Yesterday, I read a blog post called, “Here’s what really happens when you give a zero.” Joe Bower, a teacher in Red Deer, Alberta, Canada explained, “The students who are the hardest to educate and the hardest to like, are the ones that already get a steady diet of zeroes, and yet they are the ones who need us the most.”

If educators are striving to differentiate learning, raise the level of understanding, and prepare students for college and career, where does giving zeroes for assignments play into those goals? Regardless of whether a child is the best or worst student in your class, zeroes don’t motivate students to learn or to improve.

Though there may be arguments that giving a student a zero prepares them for the consequences presented in the real world, Mr. Bower says:

“It is very likely that dropouts are the kids we have the most trouble with in the real world, and yet they are the ones who get the most zeroes. If giving zeroes helped prepare dropouts for the real world, why is that they are the ones who have the most trouble living in the real world?”

How do we help the students who already feel like failures? How do we help all of our students?

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