Marking the value of grading children

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Is grading a zero-sum game? As Edmonton's Public School Board prepares to debate grading with zeros we're looking at the wider debate that suggests all grading is a form of punishment and an impediment to learning. Should teachers be handing out any grades at all?


Part Two of The Current

Marking the value of grading children - Panel

Reading, writing and 'rithmatic aren't taught to the tune of a hickory stick anymore. But you can still get an awful smack if you suggest changes to the way students are graded. An Edmonton school is confronting the issue now, but educators across the country have drawn their battle lines.

The Edmonton Public School Board meets June 12 to debate...absolutely nothing. The board is at the centre of a nation-wide controversy for suspending a local high school teacher. Lynden Dorval insisted on giving his students a mark of zero for work they don't hand in. But the board's policy is to ignore missing work and base grades only on assignments that are completed.

The debate on zero-tolerance has captured the country's attention, and if you don't have a firm opinion of your own, you probably have a firm opinion on this: some educators think it's time to get rid of grades altogether.

Joe Bower is an advocate of this approach. He is a teacher in Red Deer, Alberta. And we reached Joe Bower at his home.

John Long is a retired professor of education at the University of Manitoba. He is also co-author of the 2010 book, What's wrong with our schools and how can we fix them". And he spent seven years teaching grade school students. John Long was in our Winnipeg studio.

We brought one more guest into this conversation. Sherry Bennett is the executive director of the Alberta Assessment Consortium, which advises school boards. Sherry Bennett was in our Edmonton studio.

This segment was produced by network producer Gillian Rutherford.

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