“NO ZERO’S – LOWEST POSSIBLE GRADE IS 50%”
These words were printed in bold red letters beneath the grading rubric distributed in the student and parent handbook at the West Gate K-8 School in Port St. Lucie, Florida.
Eight-grade teacher Diane Tirado was concerned when she learned about the school’s “no zero” policy. “What if they don’t turn anything in?” Tirado says she asked the administration. “‘We give them a 50.’ I go, ‘Oh, we don’t.’ This is not kosher.’”
On September 14, Tirado was told to pack up her classroom.
As a new teacher still in her 90-day probationary period, Tirado was given no cause for her termination, but she believes her refusal to follow the “no zero” policy was to blame.
Earlier this year Tirado assigned her students an explorer notebook and gave them a two-week deadline. When the deadline came, several students failed to turn in anything. Undertandably, Tirado awarded the students 0/100 points for their submission of “nothing.”
After assigning the grade, Tirado learned about the “no zero” policy from school administrators. When she refused to change her grades from 0/100 to 50/100, Tirado was terminated.
“I’m so upset because we have a nation of kids that are expecting to get paid and live their life just for showing up and it’s not real,” Tirado said in an interview with ABC News.
On her last day, Tirado wrote the following message on her whiteboard, took a photo, and shared it on the school’s classroom app.
“You were right about not giving people 50s because why would you give them half credit for doing nothing?” wrote one student after reading her message.
Tirado’s message has gone viral in the week since her termination.
Chief Information Officer Kerry Padrick sent the following statement after Tirado’s termination went public,
Diane Tirado was employed as a teacher for St. Lucie Public Schools (SLPS) from July 30, 2018 to September 14, 2018. She was contracted as a teacher on probationary status, and was terminated shortly after one month of classroom instruction.
SLPS values the importance of maintaining a high-quality teaching staff who support students’ individualized learning needs; who understand the value of forming appropriate and positive relationships with students, colleagues, and parents; and who provide accurate and productive feedback to students on assignments. Wavering on the expectations of quality is not an option.
There is no District or individual school policy prohibiting teachers from recording a grade of zero for work not turned in. The District’s Uniform Grading System utilizes letter grades A-F, numerical grades 100-0 and grade point averages from 4-0.
Tampa Bay’s ABC affiliate WFTS reached out and asked specifically about the “no zero” policy. “Some classroom teachers and school faculties have discussed the range of points for work submitted in each grading category,” Padrick replied.
“This scale outlines a 10-point range for each letter grade:
A = 90 to 100
B = 80 to 89
C = 70-79
D = 60-69
F = 50-59
“A zero is noted on the scale for work not attempted or work that is incomplete.”
Tirado says she was explicitly instructed to “never give a zero.”
“A grade in Mrs. Tirado’s class is earned,” Tirado said. She hopes news about her termination will help encourage a change to the “no zero” policy.
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