JHS says ‘no’ to zeros

Published 9:35 pm Tuesday, August 12, 2008

The principal of Jemison High School has introduced a policy that is likely unfamiliar to most parents of students in Chilton County.

The policy, dubbed “Zero Tolerance,” requires students who receive a grade of zero on an assignment to complete the assignment in an after-school “academic detention” class the following Monday.

The detention is mandatory for any student of Jemison High School who has an incomplete assignment. The student must remain in detention until the assignment is complete and must obtain permission from the teacher to leave.

While the word “detention” has negative connotations, Principal Allen Thompson hopes it will be a positive thing for the students. The intention is to allow students to reclaim up to 50 percent of their grade.

A grade of 50 is not nearly as difficult to bounce back from as the dreaded goose egg, Thompson has pointed out. The method keeps students accountable while at the same time boosting their morale and hopefully deterring them from neglecting future assignments.

While high school students would not feel very good about a grade of 50, this new requirement will at least allow them to recapture some of the momentum that would otherwise be lost.

In the long run, this could create a ray of hope in the midst of a dark tunnel when it comes to a student’s perception of graduating.

What we like about the idea – if it works as intended – is that by limiting the recoverable points to 50, it doesn’t look like something that could be abused by students. It is already being done with some success in Shelby County Schools, which is where Thompson held his last administrative position.

Attendance is another facet of the dropout problem that must be addressed, and it is good that Jemison is emphasizing the Board of Education’s attendance policy. If enough unexcused absences add up, it can be a fatal blow to a student’s chances of graduating.

We look forward to the visible results of these efforts.