Media Release – Zero Support for No-Zero Policies

Michael Zwaagstra shows that no-zero grading policies create unhelpful incentives for students, and diminish the quality of education in our schools.
Published on August 27, 2012

Winnipeg, MB: The Frontier Centre for Public Policy is pleased to release a groundbreaking study by Frontier’s education research fellow Michael Zwaagstra. The study, entitled Zero Support for No-Zero Policies, demonstrates why schools should avoid no-zero grading policies.

“No-zero policies lack empirical research support, interfere with the professional autonomy of teachers, and are highly unpopular with parents,” argues Zwaagstra. “School administrators who choose to implement no-zero policies do so in spite of the evidence, not because of it.”

Zwaagstra evaluates the writings of prominent no-zero advocates and finds that they fail to substantiate their claims with hard evidence. “A close examination of the books and articles written by no-zero advocates shows that their arguments are based more on ideology than evidence,” notes Zwaagstra.

The no-zero policy debate was brought to national attention earlier this year with the suspension of high school physics teacher Lynden Dorval by the Edmonton Public School Board. In response to this controversy, trustees in Edmonton are about to begin a comprehensive review of their assessment policy. Zero Support for No-Zero Policies makes it clear that school boards should stay away from no-zero policies.


Download a copy of Zero Support for No-Zero Policies Here.



Michael Zwaagstra is a public high school teacher, education researcher and author. He has extensive teaching experience at a variety of grade levels and teaches high school social studies in Manitoba. He received his B.Ed., Post-Baccalaureate Diploma in Education and M.Ed. from the University of Manitoba.

As an educator, Zwaagstra is a strong proponent of raising academic standards, holding schools accountable for their results and expanding the educational options available to parents. His research has addressed topics such as standardized testing, teaching methods, school choice and teachers’ unions.

His columns promoting common sense education reforms have been published in major daily newspapers including the National Post, The Globe and Mail, the Calgary Herald, the Winnipeg Free Press, and the Chronicle Herald. He is also a frequent guest on radio stations across the country. His first book, What’s Wrong with Our Schools and How We Can Fix Them (co-authored with Rodney Clifton and John Long), was released in 2010.


For more information please contact:

Michael Zwaagstra     204-371-5125

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