I am not a big believer in zeros. A zero is worth nothing, and it means that a student did nothing. It is pretty hard for a student to do nothing without an intervention from the teacher. I know that this can be considered a controversial view, but I find that often zeroes are given to students who are immature or irresponsible. In the learning standards, there is not one to measure student responsibility. With that in mind, it is unfair for me to score them with a zero when they have worked on something in class or have begun a project, and not turned it in.
This is especially true for activities that we do in our classroom. My students participate in our Daily 5 workshop every day. I feel that they need to be held accountable for this time, but I do not allow them to do nothing, so I have worked out a rubric that matches better with what I am seeing. I got this idea from another teacher, and the rubric itself has been pieced together from a variety of sources.
This is my Daily 5 Rubric. The rubric shows 8 points, but the lowest a child can score is a 5. This is still not a great percentage, 62.5%, but it does show that they have done something. A zero, to me, would mean that they weren't even there! I find myself using 8 point rubrics over 4 point rubrics most of the time. Since I am required to give letter grades, I have found that these better align with my grading philosophy and the students' work. In the four point rubric 2 of the 4 scores are failing percentages. (Have you ever noticed that in the traditional grading scale, 60% of it is worth an F? Every other letter grade is only worth 10%)
Look at the example.
4 point scale 8 point scale
1/4 (25%--F) 5/8 (62.5%--D-)
2/4 (50%--F) 6/8 (75%--C)
3/4 (75%--C) 7/8 (87.5%--B+)
4/4 (100%--A+) 8/8 (100%--A+)
If you would like a copy of the rubric, you may click here or on the image above. What do you use to assess workshop time? I know that this is a measure of behaviors, but those behaviors do lead to better readers. I do use other assessments as part of the reading and writing grades. I would be curious to hear your ideas.