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Editorial: Zeros are Prohibited policy gives students excuse to be late


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Students “A” and “B” both have a major assignment due in their English class. Student A stayed up late, worked hard and turned in their own Mona Lisa. Student B decided to blow off the assignment, watched some television and went to bed early. Student A earns an 80 because they forgot to put their paper in MLA format and made a few other errors and Student B earns a 69 after turning it in five weeks later. The new Zeros Are Prohibited(ZAP) policy is not only a slap in the face to kids like Student A, but it also does a disservice to other students like Student “B”, teaching them that it is okay to be lazy.

Principal Elijah Granger said this policy was designed and implemented this year in an effort to teach kids that it is better to turn in their work on time than to have to follow the ZAP procedures. Under the new policy, students are given opportunities past the due date to turn in their work for a reduced grade. The first day the work is late the student can earn a 69 then decreasing by five points each day the assignment is late. If the student still hasn’t turned in the work by the fourth day, then they will be subject administrative disciplinary actions. The new policy will begin with freshman and sophomore math and science classes, spreading to the rest of the school over time.

Although this policy is a good idea in theory, the policy will not work and is flawed. Not allowing zeros only teaches laziness and lack of work ethic to students.

ZAP is not only doing an injustice to those who choose to take advantage of the new policy, it is unfair to the student that does turn in their completed assignment on time and scores lower than their expectations on the project. While this student may take home a 70 on the assignment, their classmate that was lazy can still makes a 69. Even though the “lazy student” is being graded down from a 69 while the other student had the possibility to earn a 100, it is not fair for a student that did not turn in their work on time to earn a grade equal to or slightly less than someone who did their work, and for whatever reason did not accomplish it on a high level. Although this policy is making an attempt to force students to do their work, it is more likely to encourage them to turn in their work late if they do not want to stay up late on a deadline.

ZAP also does a major disservice to the students who have the opportunity to turn in their work late. By accepting the late work, those in charge of enforcing the policy are telling students that deadlines are optional. In a real world industry, like the newspaper industry for example, if a reporter goes to cover a Sunday night Dallas Cowboys game, the story for that game is expected on their editor’s desk Monday morning, if not later that same night. If that reporter fails to turn in the story they probably won’t be hired to cover a game again. Deadlines are not an option in life and they shouldn’t be in high school either.

Students also have until the last week of the six weeks to turn in late assignments. Teachers with 120 or more students are already swamped with papers to grade. If 5% of a teacher’s students wait until the last week to turn in late assignments there is no way that teacher will be able to finish grading. The ZAP policy creates extra paperwork for teachers and it takes them away from spending quality time teaching students that are there to actually learn something and that meet deadlines.

This policy teaches students nothing except that it is okay to be lazy and that their hand is going to be held through high school anyways. It also teaches them that there is no reason to worry about deadlines as they can just turn it in late if they need to. This policy needs to be revisited so that both students and teachers get the best out of the educational experience.

Instead of giving students a chance to turn their work in after the deadline, maybe those in charge need to look into having classes that teach the importance of timeliness. After all if we teach students to just do things right in the first place we will not need a Zero policy.

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1 Comment

One Response to “Editorial: Zeros are Prohibited policy gives students excuse to be late”

  1. Cathy Ordemann on October 24th, 2011 2:04 pm

    Well said, Allie! I agree! What kind of preparation for college/life are we really trying to give students? I would love to see a follow up opinion given by Mr. Grainger. (Or did I miss that somewhere?) I guess he doesn’t believe his staff is capable of giving reasonable due dates?

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