The Zero Effect

By Anthony Rebora — February 13, 2008 1 min read
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In pondering, somewhat guiltily, why nearly half of his students are failing his class this year, IB a Math Teacher does a quick Excel calculation on his gradebook and finds the answer: If he takes out all the zeros for missed assignments, quizzes, and tests, his students’ average grade—wait for it—"goes from a 52% F to a 81% B-.” But there’s not a whole lot he can do about it at this point:

I can't excuse the missing work because some of them are assessments. I surely can't figure out what they can do on their own without those scores, so zeros and algebra failures they remain.

Incidentally, Math Teacher is clearly not alone in identifying missing work as a major contributor to failing grades: A recent Associated Press story about an Oklahoma middle school’s attempt to “eliminate the problem of zeros” has been among the most-viewed stories on all this week.

A version of this news article first appeared in the Blogboard blog.