Auburn85 364 Posted January 31, 2015 Share Posted January 31, 2015 http://www.al.com/ne...8_teachers.html A "no zeros" policy at Birmingham's W.J. Christian K-8 School has some teachers upset, and concerned that students are taking advantage of the policy. A policy instituted by Principal Nichole Davis Williams in the fall states that "Students should not receive a grade lower than 50." This means that students at the school can fail to turn in work, and still receive some credit for the work. Two teachers from W.J. Christian came to AL.com with their concerns with the policy. The teachers, who asked that their names not be used, said they were representing the concerns of a larger group of teachers at the school. The policy, which is not a district-wide policy, was implemented after a parent questioned her child's low score on a progress report, the teachers said. Some students who are aware of the policy aren't doing classwork and projects, and just taking 50s. The teachers said they have noticed behavioral problems they believe to be connected to that policy. "Students aren't learning because we can't get them to do the work," one of the teachers told AL.com. "When do we hold the students accountable?" Birmingham City Schools spokesperson Adrienne Mitchell spoke with Principal Williams about the policy. "[Principal Williams] didn't have a problem with teachers assigning students whatever grades they got on assignments, she just was not satisfied with a teacher giving a student a poor grade and then leaving it there without addressing any type of performance plan or any time of academic management plan to help those students pull those grades up," Mitchell said. "Because, clearly, if there's someone scoring below a 50 percent, there's something there that didn't connect for the student." The "no zeros" policy is meant to give students "opportunities, when they are failing, to be successful in some other way," Mitchell said. It's a floor from which a student can climb back up. She noted that according to district policy, any grade below a 60 is a "F" grade. The teachers say the policy doesn't apply to students who bomb a test and make a zero - in those cases, something went wrong, and teachers will work to fix it. But it does apply to students who fail to turn in homework, classwork, and assigned projects. "They aren't learning, they're just passing," one of the teachers said. The teachers told AL.com that they first went to Principal Williams with their concerns, and followed up with supervisor Frankie Gray. They then went to their respective unions, and reached out to AL.com columnist Edward Bowser. Mitchell told AL.com that the "no zeros" policy "is no violation of any existing policy that we have." Administrators are free to implement practices at their schools that benefit students, so long as those policies don't conflict with current board policy. "Schools have the autonomy to implement measures that they think will help students reach a higher level of achievement," she said. She said the policy lines up with a classroom management system, called CHAMPS, that the school uses. The teachers said that CHAMPS is a system they use to manage and improve classroom behavior, but they were never told that the grading policy was directly connected to the program. Birmingham Education Foundation Executive Director J.W. Carpenter said he could imagine a scenario in which a student who had troubles at home for half the year could work hard for the other half of the year and pass, which would perhaps be beneficial. But he is concerned that "students would be denied the high expectations they need to succeed." "A child who does 50 percent of the work and a child who does zero percent of the work could end up with the same grade," Carpenter said. "Therefore, you're telling the kid who did 50 percent of the work that their effort is equivalent to the kid who did zero percent of the work, and that, to me, doesn't send a very good message to that child." Carpenter cautioned that he hadn't spoken with W.J. Christian School about the rationale for the policy, or fully evaluated it, but he saw some areas of potential concern. One was measurement from school-to-school. Carpenter said it's important to have consistent policy throughout the district so schools can be measured against each other fairly and consistently. A school that does not award zeros may have higher grades than a school that does, though the work might be same. "You need transparency, and you need consistency," he said. Ultimately, we use grades not just as a way to evaluate the student's performance, but as a way to know as educators what that individual child needs, and in a broader sense, what that class needs," Carpenter said. "If we are changing grades and manipulating grades in that way, then we could be doing a disservice to what is best for the kid." Mitchell said it would be hard to say the "no zeros" policy gave students at W.J. Christian a leg up on other schools. "I think it would be hard to say that without knowing what every teacher is doing in every classroom," Mitchell said. "Some grade on a curve, some give extra credit, some allow kids to come in on Saturday and work." Richard Franklin, the president of the Birmingham local American Federation of Teachers union, said some teachers had come to him with concerns about the policy. "I've been telling my members to follow district policy, because if you give the wrong grade, you could lose your job," Franklin said. He said none of the teachers he represents have been written up for not following the policy. Link to comment Share on other sites More sharing options...
This topic is now archived and is closed to further replies.