Signs of the times…

·      Diana Tirado, an eighth grade teacher at West Gate K-8 School, Port St. Lucie, Florida, learned about the school’s “No Zero Policy” the hard way when she assigned an explorer notebook project. Although she gave students two weeks to complete it, several of them didn’t bother to turn it in. She, in turn, gave each one of them a zero. Of course, right?

Well, not so fast…

According to said policy—included in the student/parent handbook—Mrs. Tirado was required to give each one of those kids a 50%, the lowest possible grade allowed. For handing out zeroes instead, she was fired on September 14.

On her last day, she wrote this on the whiteboard in her classroom: “Bye, kids. Mrs. Tirado loves you and wishes you the best. I have been fired for refusing to give you a 50 percent grade on homework that was not turned in.” Read more.

·      According to “The Opportunity Myth,” we tell kids school matters when it comes to being prepared for college and careers–life. BUT, says the myth, “Far too many students graduate from high school still unprepared for the lives they want to lead.” That translates to remedial colleges courses or lacking needed skills to succeed in the work place. Bottom line: 71% of the time, kids are doing their homework but less than 20% of those assignments meet college-readiness standards. Read more.

Now comes a report by TNTP, an organization that concerns itself with education policies and equity issues. Reported by Linda Jacobson, senior editor for Education Dive: K-12, TNTP followed 250 teachers, watched about 1,000 classrooms, pored through thousands of assignments and work samples, and also surveyed some 4,000 students.

As TNTP CEO Daniel Weisberg put it, “Students actually are the best experts we have on the quality of the education we are providing.”

He reports that the study found that, while students are “working really hard,” many don’t get an opportunity to “succeed at the highest level.”

What should be happening? According to the study’s authors, four components are necessary for students to get the most out of their schooling:

1.      “Consistent opportunities to complete grade-appropriate assignments;

2.      “Strong instruction that puts the responsibilities for most of the thinking on the students;

3.      A feeling of being deeply engaged in the lesson;

4.      And teachers with high expectations.”

TNTP’s conclusion: On average, only 16% of the lessons observed in core subjects met those 4 criteria, “amounting to 29 hours per subject (out of a possible 180) over the course of the school year.”

·      As reported in an Education Week blog by Catherine Gewertz, the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development’s Program for International Student Assessment (PISA) is planning to now test kids’ creativity. To do so, it’s invited ACT to come up with said test, having it ready for use by 2021.

What exactly do they have in mind when it comes to assessing creativity? Reportedly, the test will target 1) written expression; 2) visual expression; 3) social problems; and 4) scientific problems.



  1. The “No Zero” policy: Approve? Disapprove?
  2. “The Opportunity Myth”: Agree? Disagree?
  3. PISA’s decision to test creativity: Good idea? Terrible idea?