- No student should receive a zero on a one hundred point scale.
- Students shouldn't receive lower marks for late assignments.
- Students should be allowed retakes.
- Extra credit points should be eliminated.
- Homework shouldn't be included as part of the grade.
I can assure you that every one of these ideas will generate a good debate, and you will find teachers who come down on either side of each one. That fact alone should raise a warning signal. If some teachers adjust grades based on behavior and late assignments while others do not, what do report card grades mean? How well would a student perform in a class where a missing assignment is awarded a zero compared to a class where a missing assignment resulted in an incomplete?
To encourage some friendly faculty lounge debate, let me get the ball rolling! One of the most discriminatory practices in education is the awarding of zeros on one hundred point scales. Because of the mathematics of averaging, a zero has an unreasonable and unrealistic impact on grades. Consider a student who has the following scores: 100, 100, 100, 0. If we use the mean, then his student's average is 75. Of course, if we used the median or mode, then the student would have a 100. In the first case, their report card grade will likely be D (assuming a typical 10% to letter grade ratio), but with a median or mode, their grade would be an A+.
An alternative approach would be to use a four or five point scale. Excellent work would receive a 4 and poor work a 1. Missing work would receive a 0. This same student would then have scores of 4, 4, 4, 0 for an average (mean) of 3, but now the score is equivalent to a B. Some schools try to stick with the 100 point system but simply award a 50 to missing work. While mathematically this is more balanced, it leads students to think that they can do nothing and still get credit for "half." A better approach is to award an incomplete and require that the work be done. When it is finished, then the completed work can be averaged with the rest of the student's work to determine the final grade. Of course, we will still have to address the issue of whether there should be a penalty for a late assignment....