Some parents and former teachers are making a big push to get rid of the zeroes in the grading system in Wake County. They say it furthers a cycle of failure amongst students that does more harm than good.
Rukiya Dillahunt taught in the Wake County school system for more than 30 years. Now, she’s an advocate championing the causes of minority and disabled students with the Coalition of Concerned Citizens for African American Children.
“It affects students of color, African American students, as well as Latino students and usually a lot of students with disabilities. Because those are the students that may not have the resources and the support that they may need to make sure that the homework is done, or that parents are able to help do the homework,” Dillahunt said.
She believes giving out zeroes is simply not effective.
Jessica Whitaker, a parent of two Wake County students, agrees but for a slightly different reason.
“My son had a field trip for another class he was out that day, and so he wasn’t there to make up the assignment,” Whitaker said.
She said her son received a zero as as a result, and when she followed up to correct it, each teacher had a different policy for correcting zeroes. She said that it was frustrating and unfair.
Wake County School Board member Jim Martin said, “If you don’t do your work, you don’t learn and that is the basis for a zero grade. That’s the basis for failure.”
Martin believes doing away with zeroes won’t solve the problem.
“It’s a gimmick. It puts a Band-Aid on the problem it doesn’t get at the underlying problem of trying to figure out why the child is not doing their work. Why is the child not learning. Getting rid of a zero does not solve the problem of learning, it doesn’t solve the problem of lack of motivation,” Martin said.
Dawn Murphy, a parent from Wake Forest, was sympathetic to both sides but said, “If the child is not doing the work they are supposed to be doing, they deserve the zero but nobody really wants to fail either.”
On Tuesday at the Wake County School Board meeting, those who are against the zeroes, will be voicing their concerns.
The board could vote on a new grading system called the 5520 that aims to address the inconsistencies in grading. But it will not get rid of zeroes.