As staff and Board members fight to end social promotion, TUSD’s administration okays a zero failure policy at Pueblo High School. The zero failure policy guarantees a grade of at least 50 percent on any assignment no matter how shoddy the work or whether the student did the work.
The new policy reads, “We will not be using zeros for any purpose. If assignments cannot be counted because of plagiarism and/or cheating, please assign a 50 to the assignment rather than a zero which may have been past practice. Any assignments where students have a D or F can and should be ‘do overs.’”
In a letter to constituents this week, Dr. Mark Stegeman addresses his concerns about the new policy,
“I am concerned about Pueblo High School’s new grading policy, which guarantees a grade of at least 50/100, on any assignment.
I am concerned that this policy could undercut the district’s new emphasis on student achievement and higher academic standards. It seems to be a step backwards.
In a job, you do not get half credit for dishonesty; you probably get fired. At UA, where I teach, the penalty for plagiarism is generally more severe than getting 50% credit for the assignment; and you do not get automatic chances to “do over” failing work. TUSD does not help its students by acclimating them to standards which are much looser than they will face in later life.
Setting low expectations for our students also disrespects them by saying, implicitly, that we think you arec apable of no better. Indeed, they are capable of much better, if adults provide models of good behavior and show confidence that students, with our help, can perform to high standards.”
Stegeman has fought the discrimination of low expectations ever since he joined the TUSD Governing Board nearly four years ago. This year he was approached by staff and stakeholders to tackle the tough issue of social promotion. His effort to require students to meet standards before being promoted to the next grade has been vigorously fought by Adelita Grijalva and Superintendent Pedicone.
Pedicone denied any knowledge of Pueblo’s new policy, but insiders say that it had to have had the approval by central administration. According to district insiders, the central office administrator in charge of high schools, Abel Morado, knew of should have known about the new grading policy.