No More Zeros in Education

If we don’t address the inequities and inaccuracies of our grades, then all of the work that we do with our curriculum becomes for naught
— Joe Feldman, CEO, Crescendo Education Group

Inequities come in the form of a multitude of areas, from the system of education to the human condition. Whether it be bias, a lack of quality undergraduate/graduate educator preparation, little to no autonomy, collegial support, and/or administrative support, the bureaucratic approach to the entire education system, etc., the unconventional approach of doing away with zeros (or grades altogether) might be the very thing that could evolve our education system. It is ironic!

The separation of behavior and academic achievement is pertinent if we want to truly see learner growth and mastery. Competent interpersonal skills and technical skills are both incredibly important in successful organizations and situations. However, the Common Core State Standards do not ask for our kids to be good, responsible people. It is very technical-based. 

Therefore, maybe we should consider a design school format to cultivate an altruistic and empathetic culture through opportunities.

Maybe we should look at standards blending to provide opportunities to meet social and emotional needs of our learners. 

Maybe we go to standards-based grading with an emphasis on keeping a traveling portfolio for learners to showcase their understandings. 

Maybe we need to consider 21st century skills and the world we live in and apply those understandings to higher education requirements.

Maybe we need to look beyond settling for compliance and consider valuing applicable abilities.

This is only a very SMALL portion of my thoughts on this topic. It is systemic, however. Everything is related to everything. Therefore, we need to decide on what to begin refining that will make the biggest splash. But no one wants to rock the boat.

Getting rid of grades, zeros, or whatever else would force people to question how to motivate learners (pedagogy), push past knowledge and value understandings (content), and find relevant, meaningful, and authentic ways to build character and expertise (culture). It would force the education system and administration to evaluate the support and resources they provide educators/schools (quality over quantity). It could start conversations on the levels of thinking and the domains of questions we want from 21st century citizens and employees. This affects HOW we do everything in education!

Questions to Consider:

1.    What would getting rid of grades look like, and what effect would it have on the education system? How would educators and administration conversations evolve?

2.    Do inequities in education come from the educator’s background? Training? Knowledge of pedagogy? Etc.

3.    How does an organization cultivate and nurture a philosophy that adheres common understandings of objective standards in a subjective setting?

4.    What does the K-12 education system need to consider and/or adopt when preparing 21st century citizens in the workforce?

Check out Deborah Yaffe's article "No More Zeros in K12 Education" article

Yaffe, D. (2017, November). No more zeros in K12 education. District Administration. Retrieved from