Giving zeros to students a last resort at STAR Catholic

There has been controversy about whether students should get a zero for not completing an assignment.

There has been controversy about whether students should get a zero for not completing an assignment. For the record, STAR Catholic Schools does not have a division policy on this question. As trustees, we have confidence that the principals and teachers in each of our schools know what’s best for individual students and will act accordingly. This means a student may receive a zero if warranted. However, giving a zero to a student is considered a last resort at STAR Catholic Schools because we know other approaches often work much better.

There is little question the threat of getting a zero can be a motivator in getting an assignment completed on time. However, for some students, research has shown it is not the best approach in helping students be successful learners. All students thrive in an environment where they are given instruction, feedback and help throughout the learning process. This includes helping students overcome whatever might be preventing them from participating in class, doing homework, studying for exams or getting assignments done on time.

This “zero as a last resort” philosophy reflects our inclusive approach to education that welcomes all types of learners. Inclusive education means accommodating a wide variety of learning styles, abilities and skills. We know that working with students to improve performance within a flexible, loving, caring Christ-centred environment pays far more dividends than restrictive, one size fits all policies. That’s why we give our schools and teachers the freedom to make decisions about giving zeros to students.

Telling students what they are expected to learn and then giving constant support to improve their performance before they are tested works. The positive results of this approach are evident as shown by the achievement of our students, and expressed through the satisfaction of our parents and the commitment of our staff. If you would like to know more about STAR Catholic Schools philosophy regarding our grading approach or have any questions, please contact Curt Baron the principal of St. Augustine School.

Maria Lentz ( is a Ponoka Trustee on the STAR Catholic Schools Division Board. STAR Catholic Schools has 3,000 students in 10 schools located in Beaumont, Drayton Valley, Leduc, Lacombe, Ponoka and Wetaskiwin. Learn more at

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