Simcoe schools on the mark when grading students 0
Schools are zeroing in on student success in Simcoe County, even if it means giving students a failing grade.
"Study habits turn into work habits," said Collingwood and Clearview Township school board trustee Caroline Smith. "It's about teaching kids to be responsible, that there are repercussions for their actions."
The view is not one shared across Canada. A physics teacher from Edmonton was recently suspended from his school after giving students a zero for incomplete assignments or missed tests. His colleague faces discipline Tuesday for the same offence.
"The thought is sometimes people will walk away from education, so if you make education so difficult, they won't continue with it," said Smith. "I think it's a bigger issue."
Students in the Simcoe County District School Board who face failing a credit can bring up their mark through working with the Student Success teacher on supplemental assignments.
"We don't just walk away from kids, we ask how we can help them," said Smith. "You're still doing the work, it's not a free ride, it's just a different way of doing it."
The school board was presented with the option from the Ontario Ministry of Education to increase the minimum mark a student can receive on an assignment, meaning if a student did not hand in a report, they could still get 10 or 25 % on it, rather than zero.
The school board voted unanimously against the ban on zeroes.
"The whole point of handing in a report is to show that you understand it," said Smith. "The bottom line, at the end of the term, is the teacher has to know what you know."
That said, Smith says it is unlikely a student will fail an entire semester because of not handing in one assignment.
"Assessments within our school board are continuous, not just a specific date," said Smith.
Mike Abrams, the principal at Collingwood Collegiate Institute, implements a variety of assessment methods for students to show their abilities.
"You want them to demonstrate their knowledge," said Abrams. "Staff have been very creative in how they pull that out of students. There's a lot of flexibility there."
Collingwood Collegiate Institute is above board and provincial levels with their Ontario Secondary Schools Literacy Test scores released Wednesday.
The schools must abide by the Ministry of Education's growing success guide when assessing students.
"In there it talks about steps and stages that we take before not accepting a student's work," said Abrams. "Zero is probably the last step."
Stayner Collegiate principal Jane Seymour recognizes the importance of students handing in assignments for their learning development.
"We do everything to make sure students hand in assignments to demonstrate what they know," said Seymour. "Once they hand in assignments, teachers are able to give feedback."
The Simcoe County School Board also offers Alternative Schools in each area for students who have difficulty in traditional schools. The Alternative School offers smaller class sizes and students work on one course at a time through a six-week rotation.
"The Alternative School had our first graduate five years ago, this year we have five students graduating," said Abrams.
Abrams has been working in schools for 27 years and says the changes in student assessment are positive.
"It's much more student-centred now. You're working to the strengths of the students," he said. "We're much more aware of the differences in schools, and work to accommodate them."