OPS Officials Say "No Zeros" Policy Is Working

It's been a policy in most schools for decades: If you don't turn in your homework, you get a zero for the assignment. But that policy has changed at a number of schools across the metro. Omaha Public Schools is the latest district to make the change to a "no zero" policy.

The OPS policy went into effect at the beginning of the school year. If a student attempts an assignment but fails, the worst grade that student could get is a 65 percent. If a student doesn't attempt the assignment, instead of a zero, they get a 50 percent.

Sally Hansen is an elementary curriculum consultant for Omaha Public Schools. "If a child is already struggling, and I give that child two or three zeros for not completing work, they're going to give up. Because it will take almost all year to bring that grade up. And we do not want anyone to feel like a failure and give up already in elementary school."

Critics of "no zeros" policies say it doesn't hold students accountable. They also say it could lead to them being less responsible as adults.

But Hansen disagrees.

"There are still a lot of consequences," Hansen says. "It is not a free pass for a child, believe me. That teacher is on them to get that work completed. And the child knows what's expected to get the grades that they need to get.

"The research did show that if a child is given a chance to bring those grades up by not having a zero, and being able to bring a grade up from a 50 or from a 65, they are more likely to be engaged in learning. They are more likely to turn around their learning skills and the work that they do complete. And they are more likely to stay in school."

The Omaha Education Association, the local teacher's union, did not offer a position on the policy when contacted Tuesday. But they are planning to meet tomorrow to discuss the issue.

OPS has also launched a new district-wide computer system that gives parents access to their student's grades through the internet. For more information about the new system contact your local school office.

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