Date of Conferral
Doctor of Education (Ed.D.)
Local middle schools have begun implementing a no-zero policy, which compels teachers to assign grades no lower than 50% even if a student did not turn in assignments for grading. In the study setting, high school teachers are struggling to motivate students who have attended a middle school with a no-zero policy in place. High school students who have attended a middle school with a no-zero policy show signs of learned helplessness. The purpose of this study was to examine the differences in core course grades between high school students who attended a middle school with a no-zero policy (NZPMS) and high school students who attended a middle school without this policy that would compel the assignment of F grades if earned by the student (FPMS). The theoretical framework is Seligman's theory of learned helplessness. The sample included 1,396 students in a high school who attended either of the two middle schools. Comparisons between mean high school mathematics, science, and English grades were compared using a one-tailed t-test. Effect sizes were measured using Cohen's d. The findings indicated statistically significant small to medium differences in students' core course grades. Students who had attended the NZPMS earned lower high school core course grades in mathematics, science, and English than students who had attended FPMS. Professional development activities were created to train teachers and administrators at the NZPMS about the negative effects of awarding students with passing grades without expanding any or only minimal effort. Positive social change could occur for students' academic careers and professional lives if the no-zero policy is rescinded.