Monday, September 24, 2012

A Letter From Edgar Schmidt

And the back-peddling begins as the Edmonton Public School Board reviews its idiotic "no zero" policy.  My inner cynic thinks if it weren't for the fact that a long-serving dedicated physics teacher hadn't had the guts to call these clowns out, this issue would have been swept quietly under the rug.

Schmidt sent a letter to parents in a pathetic attempt at reassurance.  After the feel-good language claiming to "[provide a] safe, caring and respectful learning environment", Schmidt cuts right to the chase.

We expect students to do their work.  When students don't do their work, we hold them accountable so that they learn what they need to know.

Wow, it almost seems as though Schmidt took a step into the real world with that gem.  But, how exactly, ARE they held accountable, Mr. Schmidt?  He doesn't go into detail on that.  Care to cite a study on how not giving out zeros is beneficial, Mr. Schmidt?  Can you provide one single, solitary scrap of evidence in support of this policy?  Just one?  Silence.  Indeed, Alberta has standardized testing at grade 3,6 and 9 along with Grade 12 departmental exams.  You would think then that there would be some way of showing how a "no zero" policy helps improve test scores.  But there is nothing.

We have not and will not pass students who do not complete their course requirements.

Garbage.  Really, if few parents are aware of your "no zero" policy, what else are they unaware of?  How do you expect the public to trust your leadership when you've given such a poor showing on this issue?  Of course you pass them.  I happen to know for a fact that this happens.  And I don't see how your board differs from any other.   I'm sure this has nothing at all to do with funding of course.  Now that would be downright silly.

By the way, you can find a copy of the Ross Sheppard School's grading and assessment policy here.  On the fourth page down you'll find the bizarre list of different grading codes you wind up with when you adhere to this senseless policy.  Remember, there is absolutely no evidence of its effectiveness.  Instead, we get an alphabet soup of assessment codes.....MPA, NHI, AMP, LDI, OMI.....OMG, give me a break!

Further details on the review will be shared in the coming months.

Months?  Seriously, how long does this have to be drawn out for?  It takes months to reverse an obviously bone-headed idea?  Of course, I'm sure it's no skin off Mr. Schmidt's back.  This tool will still get paid in the meantime.  Mr. Schmidt, how far do you think I'd get if every time Suncor was putting in an order from the contractor I worked for if I told my boss, "Ya. Geez....um....give me a few months to think about it and write a report and I'll get back to you."  Give me a break.  Obviously, you don't live in the real world so I can understand in a sense why this silly policy may make sense to you.

Quite simply, no-zero policies lack and sort of empirical research support, interfere with teacher autonomy and, it goes without saying, are highly unpopular with parents.  This is an notion based more on ideology rather than evidence.  Understandably, the Edmonton School Board won't put this link up on their home page, which pretty much blows any sort of rationale for implementing a "no zero" policy right out of the water.

Mr. Schmidt, you have quite simply shown very poor leadership on this issue.  Evidently, there is no consistent implementation of this policy across this board.   Good grief.  Do the honourable thing, please.  Either admit your support of this policy is a mistake or resign.

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