Wednesday, January 14, 2015


The so called "no-zero" policy is back in the media.

The Telegram published a letter to the editor from a long time critic of the assessment and evaluation policy. Michael Zwaagstra is an educator, author and fellow with the Atlantic Institute of Market Studies (AIMS).  He has been a vocal critic of no zero policies in Canadian jurisdictions.

Zwaagstrais is not alone. There has been a lot of negative feedback from teachers, parents, psychologists and school councils. In fact, I have often wondered if the policy was worth the grief it has generated. 

The Newfoundland and Labrador Federation of School Councils has not endorsed the policy. There are some mixed opinions but the vast majority of conversations that I have had with parent, student, teacher and community reps has been bewilderment. They just do not like the idea that high school students appear to be able to set their own deadlines and not take responsibility for their actions. I feel it creates  leaves students ill-prepared to meet expectations, meet  deadlines,  perform assigned tasks and deal with the real world consequences of coping with failure.

I feel their is a difference between assessment and punishment. Cheating, not finishing assignments and other bad behavior must have consequences. In fact they do. Students are punished for bad behavior but the academic penalty has certainly been adjusted since 2011 to reflect a no-zero approach.

Last Spring at the NLFSC AGM a resolution was passed calling on government and the board to provide us with qualitative and quantitative evidence to support continuing on with the maligned assessment and evaluation policy. We have raised the issue with both.

The current English board is in the process of holding public consultations to develop a unified policy to cover everything from evaluations to human resources. In short the misguided policy is under review.

We will be putting forward the position, unless the data accumulated  from this experiment shows otherwise, that the unified policy abandon the no-zero approach.

I would encourage folks on both side of the issues to get engaged in the process. Prepare your letters and presentation, be vocal and influence the new unified  assessment process which is the cornerstone of how your child is evaluated.

1 comment:

Denise said...

Excellent Telegram interview and comments Peter!