I teach middle school and attempted to use this idea (no zeroes/F's); unfortunately, there were those students who worked the system. For example, I indicated that all work that was turned in would receive credit of some sort... so students turned in work with their name on it, the first question attempted (out of 25) and expected a "1 (D)" for their time. Consequently, I had to modify this a bit -- however, I have certainly decreased the number of students with F's and D's as they all know that it is possible and probable that should they complete their work (even if late) or have to redo a project that they will be able to attain a "2 (C)". The additional benefit is that those student's who do end up with "0's (F's)" are fully aware that they earned this grade... as are their families.
This system (make-up's, re-do's, etc.) also provides an incentive for those who have a "2 (C)" or a "3 (B)" to push themselves to raise their scores -- making it more likely they will be proficient in an area when they are done.
It goes without saying (but I will anyway), that we cannot force students to do their work -- we can just do our part to provide the opportunities for them to be successful. To that end, we have Advisory four times a week in which at least two days are set aside for making up/redoing/completing classwork, homework, quizzes/tests, etc. Additionally, those students who are in the base elective classes (computers, home ec, etc.) have Success Wednesday in which they can be tutored in areas of weakness, work on any class work or homework, or read & test on their Accelerated Reader books.
There are also those teachers that provide their time at lunch or before/after school to work with students. I, personally, provide time after school once a week and also make myself availble through an IM chat feature (Meebo) that can be found on my blog once or twice a week to work with students who are working from home and need some help.
I think the key to implementing changes is discussion among the staff. Our district moved this way with little discussion. I truly feel the need to reflect and consider the implications before making drastic changes...doesn't always work out that way though. Much of the responsibility falls on the teacher to provide time to make-up work.
That is the way I feel. I think we should include teachers on a volunteer basis to look at the policy. Then people should have "research based" evidence on how to do things. In the past grading has been based on "how the teacher does it" without a written set of guidelines. Some teachers allow make up work, some do not; some give zeros, some do not; some average retests, some do not; some give credit for attendance, some do not; etc.
We are not allowed to give zeroes, extra credit or to deduct points for not doing homework. We've tried to implement a standards based program, but have not considered all possible sides of it. I really believe it is something that you need to implement over a period of time.
Looking at teachers grades, I have seen where many students would fail or get D's if homework, effort, being prepared for clas, class participaton, etc. were not included. That does not tell me the students have masterd the material.
I thought this link to our Division's Report Cards and Grading might help you. Templates for our report cards are on this page as well as an elaboration of the guiding principles we have adopted. I listed them below.
Include only achievement; don’t include student behaviors in grades (effort, participation, adherence to class rules, lates, dishonesty, etc.).
Don’t reduce marks on work submitted late, provide support for the learner.
Seek only evidence that more work has resulted in a higher level of achievement; don’t give points for extra credit or use bonus points.
Don’t punish academic dishonesty with reduced grades; apply other consequences and reassess to determine actual level of achievement.
Don’t include attendance in grade determination; report absences separately.
Use only individual achievement evidence; don’t include group scores in grades. The intention is to develop achievement and social improvements on the learning journey.
Organize and report evidence by student learning outcomes; don’t organize information in grading books/records by assessment methods or simply summarize into a single grade.
Provide clear descriptions of achievement expectations/student learning outcomes; don’t assign grades using inappropriate or unclear performance student learning outcomes.
Compare each student’s performance to preset student learning outcomes; don’t assign grades based on student’s achievement compared to other students.
Rely only on quality assessments; don’t rely on evidence gathered using assessments that fail to meet standards of quality.
Summarizing information and determining final grade. Criterion referenced. Show student learning of preset student learning outcomes. Describe what performance looks like beyond letter or number grade.
Consider the measures of central tendency and use professional judgment; don’t rely on the mean (average of services of scores).
Don’t include zeros in grade determination when evidence is missing or as punishment. Use alternatives, such as reassessing to determine real achievement or use “I” for incomplete or insufficient evidence. Give opportunity to replace an incomplete with a score without penalty. Zeros: only shows lack of evidence – it does not show student achievement; give numeric value to something not assessed; involve inappropriate mathematics; distort grades; are counterproductive to motivation to learn.
Student work is assessed frequently (formative assessment) and graded occasionally (summative assessments). Use only summative evidence; don’t use information from practice and formative assessments to determine grades. Don’t grade everything
Involve students. Ensure students have meaningful involvement in tracking, reporting, and communicating their learning and status.
Student work is assessed frequently (formative assessment) and graded occasionally (summative assessments). Use only summative evidence; don’t use information from practice and formative assessments to determine grades. Don’t grade everything.
Final exams/Culminating Evaluation: This is not limited to exams and refers to any form of final assessment that requires students to synthesize their learning over a term or semester.
Emphasize more recent achievement. “Most recent evidence completely replaces out-of-date evidence when it is reasonable to do so. For example, how well students write at the end of the grading period is more important than how well they write at the beginning, and later evidence of improved content understanding is more important than early evidence” (Stiggins & Chappuis, 2005, p. 223).
Involve students. Ensure students have meaningful involvement in a) tracking, b) reporting, and c) communicating their learning and status.
I like many of the ideas you presented... Does your report card allow for the adding of comments to reflect these standards for grading? For example, "incomplete or insufficient evidence is available to determine if mastery/proficiency has been achieved." Can grades of pass/fail be used in place of letter grades?
Basically yes, at the moment K-5 use a scale I (incomplete or rather insufficient evidence), B (beginning), M (meeting), and E (exceeding). Grade 6 on they get percentages, however we hear that might change. Take a look at the report cards and you will see the options.
I was not part of the formulation. If you would like me to connect you with the people involved I will do so. It all seems rational to me. The problem lies in its acceptance by other stakeholders in education. What, one has to ask, do our post-secondary institutions feel about this?