ONTARIO TEACHERS’ CASE AGAINST “THE CASE AGAINST ZERO”
Taylor's College (MALAYSIA)
About this paper:
Appears in: ICERI2010 Proceedings
Publication year: 2010
Conference name: 3rd International Conference of Education, Research and Innovation
Dates: 15-17 November, 2010
Location: Madrid, Spain
Abstract:The Ministry of Education in Ontario is currently marking significant policy announcements in regards to assessment and evaluation. These announcements both change and clarify current practices based on current research. One of the issues under analysis is whether or not the mark of “zero” has a place in the 21st century classroom. Some believe that it is only proper assessment of learning that an assignment that was not submitted receive a zero. On the other hand, some state that zeros represent draconian assessment for learning and must be avoided. In its latest policy statement, the Ministry recognizes that both sides have a legitimate argument. However, instead of choosing a side, the government advises teachers to use their professional judgement when it comes to late and/or missing assignments. Since the discretion is left to classroom teachers, it makes sense to examine their insight into the issue. A selection of secondary school Ontario teachers were asked to read a piece by Douglas Reeves entitled “The Case Against Zero.” Reeves’s short article summarizes the main arguments of the “anti-zero” side of the debate. Teachers were then asked to answer a series of questions based on the article. Using a Grounded Theory approach, one pattern became abundantly clear. Above all, Ontario teachers value effort. Students who do not complete assignments, despite being given multiple opportunities to succeed, do not exhibit the kind of effort teachers want to see. Consequently, most teachers see no problem with assigning a zero. Part of the mandate of Ontario teachers is to foster life-long learning, and assigning even a failing mark for work that was not handed in does not equate to a valuable life lesson.
Keywords: Assessment, evaluation, zero.