The province's federation of school councils says the Newfoundland and Labrador English School District needs to give some serious thought to its No Zeros policy.

In 2011, the Eastern School District introduced new rules that prevented teachers from giving students a mark of zero if they were caught cheating.

Derek Drodge, chair of the school council at Booth Memorial in St. John's, said with the creation of a new provincial school board, now is the time to rethink the policy.

'To have a policy to go across the board and say you can't give a zero because that's the policy of the board, I don't think that's right.'- Derek Drodge, chair of school council at Booth Memorial

Drodge said the policy gives students unrealistic expectations about how things work in post-secondary and out in the workforce.

"That might be fine if you're in K-6, it might be even OK if you're in junior high school. But in high school where you are getting ready to go to post-secondary, when you are getting ready to go out into the work force, you need to have the work ethics, you need to have the discipline to be able to get things in on time and to be rewarded for that particular endeavour," said Drodge.

When the rule was introduced in 2011, the Newfoundland and Labrador Teachers' Association took similar issue with the policy, saying it sends the wrong message to students.

Drodge said it's a mixed message to students about the importance of their education, and said even students realize the impact of the policy.

Three years enough time for definitive answers

According to Drodge, some students have approached him, stating that the decision to give a grade should be left in the hands of teachers.

"There's always going to be cases where it's extenuating circumstances. If that comes up and an assignment is due, and that student goes to the teacher … the teacher, nine times out of 10, is going to

[be lenient]," he said.
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A policy implemented in 2011 prevents teachers from giving students a grade of zero. Derek Drodge says it's time to re-visit the policy, and the province's school board needs to determine whether or not it's actually having a positive impact. (CBC)

"But to have a policy to go across the board and say you can't give a zero, because that's the policy of the board, I don't think that's right."

According to Drodge, the school board should have enough information by now to determine if the policy is having a positive impact on student education.

"They've got three years worth of studies now almost, they should be able to come back and … give us a definitive answer," said Drodge.

"Is there anything better? Is there anything worse? Or is this a neutral policy? If it hasn't improved the actual educational circumstances for our students, then let's go back and revisit that."

Drodge hopes to meet with the school board in the near future, along with the Department of Education, to discuss the possibility of changing the policy.