Six Years Later, Still No Case Against the Zero
October 11, 2010
In 2004, Douglas B. Reeves published The Case Against the Zero, an article decried by classroom teachers as a tool to manipulate classroom grades.? According to the article, it is illogical that each of the four passing letter grades represents 10 percent each on the 100-point scale while the F represents a whole 60 percent. ?He claims that the classic A-B-C-D-F grading scale should correspond like a ratio, where the five letter grades would accordingly each represent 20 percent.
The problem with Reeves' case against the zero is that his logic is unfounded and misleading. ?The entirety of his argument is based on the premise that the four-point scale is, above all others, the most appropriate means of assessing performance.? He arrogantly questions the intelligence of anyone disagreeing with him before deceiving the reader into believing mathematics prove his point.
?The persistence of the zero on a 100-point scale indicates that many people with advanced degrees, including those with more background in mathematics than the typical teacher, have not applied the ratio standard to their own professional practices.?
Admittedly, he's right ? they haven't applied the ratio standard to the classroom grading scale. ?The reason being that it makes no mathematical sense to do so! ?If an individual class was simplified to covering a total of ten concepts, how many should students need to master in order to receive credit for the class? ?I would argue a majority of them, or six out of ten at the least. ?Using Reeves' logic, students mastering only two of ten concepts would receive a passing grade.
I agree with Reeves that discouraging students from performing is not something to be desired and that keeping students from dropping out of school is a worthy goal. ?However, his solution is nothing more than a guise for administrators to artificially inflate grades and boost graduation rates. ?The only students that benefit from this plan are the indolent ones.? Struggling but devoted learners become only more prone to discouragement ? the students teachers worry the most about losing.? Laziness and procrastination, habits stifled by the 100-point scale, are unacknowledged by the four-point scale for the vices that they are.
With the ignorant logic in The Case Against the Zero, Douglas Reeves has done the American education system a huge disservice.