School responds to 'no 0% policy' that resulted in teacher's firing

Published: Sep. 27, 2018 at 1:47 PM EDT
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A grading policy debate that's gone viral has teachers at the school speaking in support of how they run their classrooms.

At West Gate K-8 in Port St. Lucie, Florida, you'll find a lot of motivating words in the classrooms.

"Failure, as we have spoken about as a school, as a district, is not an option," says teacher Julie Leofanti.

That's exactly why teachers here say that automatically giving students zeros for uncompleted assignments actually sends the wrong message.

"Once you give that child a couple zeros, they can't come back from it. So we're telling them, right off the bat, don't even bother the rest of the semester," teacher Nancy Small explains.

They say they've been using the no zero policy for years. It went viral just this week after former West Gate teacher Diane Tirado says she

But these teachers say not doing the work is simply not an option.

"There are kids who would prefer to take the zero. That's the easy way out. It's a non-issue for us as teachers. We know that that's what we signed up for," teacher Jennifer Skurnick explains.

They say the idea behind a lowest possible grade being 50 percent isn't to give a handout, but rather a hand-up.

"So you can move forward and understand and learn, which is our main goal, what it is we're trying to teach you to be able to move to that next step and become that productive citizen," Leofanti says.

And they have a room full of peers supporting them who say they all ultimately want to support their students.

"We do what's best for children, period."

The no zero grading philosophy is not a district-wide policy, but it is considered a best practice.

Fifty percent is still considered a failing grade.