A defense of the zero in SBG

Posted on November 5, 2012


Reassessment Request

When I started SBG this year, I never thought I would need to make the above document. But there have been very few requests to reassess so far this year, until this week, when all of a sudden I got no less than 20 requests…all of which started with the phrase “I didn’t know we could retake tests.”

This fact is clearly stated in the syllabus.

When I asked the students which ones they wanted to retake, many said “All of them.”

While it is possible (probable?) that they would want to do so, I was puzzled because a few of them weren’t doing too badly. In fact, the grade breakdown for the first quarter was strongly skewed to As and Bs; right triangle review and the Laws of Sine and Cosine weren’t too much of a challenge for them.

Then, after they got them, came the “Wait, this isn’t like the first assessment! I can’t do this!” comments…which is just admitting that they didn’t know how to do it in the first place. Oh, and the reassessments were all different from each other. “That’s not fair!”

Finally, the reassessments dropped some of their grades instead of improving them.

Thus, the request form, where they find out, rather explicitly, that all of the above is true. And they have to do some research for their own benefit.

And, finally, to the title of this post.

I have some students, not many, that absolutely refuse to make any attempt at anything. Most of them (there’s seven of them) are compliant in the sense that they politely sit there and will tell me that they don’t need the class to graduate, didn’t want to take the class anyway but their counselors “made them” so they’d be ready to go to college (that they can’t afford to go to) just in case they “change their minds about going right before graduation”.

Side note: this happened at my school one time, four or five years ago, and the kiddo and her parents found a really obnoxious student-advocate who caused a bunch of trouble until the entire district was made to do this bizarre “force the students to be ready for college even when they can’t/don’t want to go. So we do.

Anyhoo…some of them are jerks. And the ones who are are juniors, who do absolutely need the class as the third year of math to graduate. There is no motivating those three; they are all straight F-bombing every class. Apparently, that makes them happy.

Compliant sweeties or jerks…I give ’em zeroes for the SBG grade. And I don’t feel bad at all about it.

Then I read about people who say there is no place for a zero in SBG. To them, I ask…

What grade would you have me give them?