No Zeros? The new motivator for slacker students
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No Zeros? The new motivator for slacker students

No Zeros? The new motivator for slacker students

Recently an article was published in the Knox News Sentinel entitled No Zeros. It details a new policy created by a Sevier County Principal in which students can no longer be awarded zeros for missing assignments. Instead students are required to tun in the work, no matter how long it takes and with extensive consequences attached. An individual’s choices become a school wide concern. All of the teachers of this “slacker” student become involved in obtaining the missing work and use vehicles such as study hall, detention, and exclusion from school activities as the motivator. This policy is based on Dan Hill’s new book, Power of ICU: The End of Student Apathy … Reviving Engagement and Responsibility.

The Sevier county school claims that they have had tremendous success with this method and that for the first time they have 100% of assignments turned in.

I love this idea. I have always felt that the completion of the assigned task was more important than the grade. The gradesimply allows the adult to bring resolution to the matter, but gives the student a way out of completing the activity. No one can expect a elementary aged child to understand the long term impact of a zero on their overall grade, and teenagers who will often times demonstrate unmonitored impulsivity can also lack concern of the long term impact of not turning in an assignment. Additionally, the inclusion of zeros in a final grade do not reflect a student’s true mastery of the subject matter.

Furthermore, this policy emphasizes the school more as a community which is where I feel schools needs to move. Teachers, especially in middle and high schools, work independently of each other. In some ways they are even forced to compete. Is this in the best interest of our students? No one argues with the fact that students who come from a strong family dynamic are more likely to be successful in school than those who come from broken homes. In many ways, schools are like broken homes… they lack communication, common purpose, and a steady support system.

This is a fast and dirty blog this morning, I just wanted to get this up before the article disappears. Read and comment please!

12 Comments
  • Pingback:Tweets that mention No Zeros? The new motivator for slacker students | Ecology of Education -- Topsy.com
    Posted at 09:22h, 21 October Reply

    […] This post was mentioned on Twitter by Jason Flom , Chad Sansing. Chad Sansing said: Or are we asking for the wrong work? RT @JasonFlom "No Zeros? The New Motivator for SLACKER Students"…by @jessufgit http://bit.ly/1SYAEC […]

  • Jason Flom
    Posted at 13:17h, 21 October Reply

    "No Zeros? The New Motivator for SLACKER Students" new blog post on Eco of Ed by @jessufgit http://bit.ly/1SYAEC

  • Chad Sansing
    Posted at 13:21h, 21 October Reply

    Or are we asking for the wrong work? RT @JasonFlom "No Zeros? The New Motivator for SLACKER Students"…by @jessufgit http://bit.ly/1SYAEC

  • Michael_Josefowicz
    Posted at 04:24h, 22 October Reply

    I apologize for the over long comment, but this is an issue close to my heart.

    The crux of the matter is ” gives the student a way out of completing the activity”

    My focus is on high school and particularly the dropout epidemic. At the bottom of the pyramid the “grade” is not an important signifier. The most usual approach for educators is to find the fault in a “dysfunctional” culture that does not value the “grade.” Given the seemingly intractable nature of the problem, it should be clear by now that “changing the culture” takes too long and is ultimately the wrong approach.

    But much more important than “ultimately” is the fact that every day kids who drop out of high school are very liekly to end up in jail.

    In a couple of experiments, I've been able to get 85% homework compliance among this population of students by changing the rules and the communication ecology.

    The rule change was ” three assignments missed and you have to repeat the course, no matter what else you do” Repeating the course is a proximate disincentive that is clearly understood and transparent.

    The change in communication was enabled by giving the students a printed out spreadsheet of who did and who didn't do their homework that week. At the bottom of the printed sheet was a place for mom to sign and give her contact information, including cell phones or email address. At the top of the sheet in clear type was the rule “three assignments missed and you have to repeat the course, no matter what else you do”

    A chart showing that 50% of the students did the assignment eliminated the normal excuses of “it was too hard. I didn't understand it. The teacher is blah blah. ” As the per cent complying increased each week, the pressure to comply increase. From mom's point of view it said “If she can do it, why can't you do it.”

    At the end of 3 weeks, we had 85% compliance, with no further interventions necessary. The 15% who had serious problems could then be helped as needed. It turned out that the clarification of the rules and proximate disincentive made it unnecessary to make any calls home.

    I think the blind spot is created by a culture of sympathy, instead of empathy. In fact, the overwhelming majority of parents and guardians in “dysfunctional” families want nothing more than their kids to get a great education. What is perceived as “not caring” is,i n fact, a combination of two problems: 1. Parents too busy solving their life problems 2. Schools that don't have the systems in place to communicate to them fast enough.

    The critical issue is “fast enough” to allow the parents to bring their considerable authority to bear to create the appropriate behaviors. The mere presence of the systems in place, create a culture shift that can have tipping point results.

  • Michael Josefowicz
    Posted at 10:46h, 22 October Reply

    "Slackers" http://bit.ly/1SYAEC via @chadsansing @JasonFlom @jessufgit http://bit.ly/1SYAEC | Not doing the work is not an option. Exactly.

  • Michael Josefowicz
    Posted at 10:47h, 22 October Reply

    "All of the teachers of this “slacker” student become involved in obtaining the missing work" : Slackers :http://bit.ly/1SYAEC

  • Michael Josefowicz
    Posted at 10:49h, 22 October Reply

    "Dan Hill’s new book, Power of ICU: The End of Student Apathy … Reviving Engagement and Responsibility" Slackers http://bit.ly/1SYAEC

  • Michael Josefowicz
    Posted at 10:51h, 22 October Reply

    "with this method they have 100% of assignments turned in." Slackers http://bit.ly/1SYAEC

  • uberVU - social comments
    Posted at 11:57h, 22 October Reply

    Social comments and analytics for this post…

    This post was mentioned on Twitter by MrR0g3rs: RT @prestwickhouse: RT @jasonflom No Zeros? The new motivator for slacker students http://url4.eu/diNT

  • adewitt2
    Posted at 12:48h, 10 November Reply

    I couldn't agree more. Zeros should be banned from school. Zeros should be part of a behavior score not a reflection of the standards mastered. Perhaps a narrative that explains mastery and work ethic would better reflect the progress of each student. I can hear the simultaneous moan of teachers writing paragraphs for each of their students in the secondary level.

  • Steve J. Moore
    Posted at 20:41h, 10 November Reply

    "the inclusion of zeros in a final grade do not reflect a student’s true mastery of the subject matter…" http://bit.ly/m4pbi

  • adewitt2
    Posted at 20:48h, 10 November Reply

    I couldn't agree more. Zeros should be banned from school. Zeros should be part of a behavior score not a reflection of the standards mastered. Perhaps a narrative that explains mastery and work ethic would better reflect the progress of each student. I can hear the simultaneous moan of teachers writing paragraphs for each of their students in the secondary level.

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