An eighth-grade history teacher has claimed that she was fired for refusing to award partial credit to students that didn’t hand in their homework. Today, she is on a mission to eradicate “no-zero” grading policies in schools.
Diane Tirado, 53, explained that West Gate K-8 School in Port St. Lucie, Florida, maintained a “no-zero” policy, meaning that students could not obtain less than 50 percent on any assignment, even if they didn’t hand one in, per Metro.
Tirado disagreed with the policy, and on Sept. 14, 2018, claimed that her decision got her fired. Before she left the school premises, the eighth-grade teacher bid farewell to her students by leaving a handwritten message on the classroom whiteboard.
“Bye kids,” Tirado’s message began. “Mrs Tirado loves you and wishes you the best in life! I have been fired for refusing to give you a 50% for not handing anything in. [Love] Mrs Tirado.”
Tirado had been employed by West Gate K-8 for little over a month before being terminated during what was still her probationary period. The teacher snapped a photo of her farewell whiteboard message and posted it to social media, hoping to reach an audience over her controversial dismissal.
Days after her photo went viral, Tirado returned to Facebook to reflect on the experience. On Sept. 25, 2018, Tirado posted: “Teaching should not be this hard.”
“Teachers teach content,” she continued, “children do the assignments to the best of their ability, and teachers grade that work based on a grading scale that has been around a very long time.”
In 2018, West Gate K-8 School’s grading rubric stipulated that the lowest possible grade attainable for students was 50 percent, although an “incomplete” grade, equivalent to zero percent, was also possible, as per WPTV. Speaking to the news channel, however, Tirado maintained that she was instructed never to give a student a zero.
Good morning! I am reading all the posts you have written and reflecting upon them. The reason I took on this fight was…
West Gate K-8 officials, however, disagreed with Tirado’s assertion that she had been terminated for issuing zero grades altogether. In a statement to WPTV, a school district representative extrapolated:
“Ms. Tirado was released from her duties as an instructor because her performance was deemed sub-standard and her interactions with students, staff, and parents lacked professionalism and created a toxic culture on the school’s campus,” the representative wrote.
“Her dismissal,” they continued, “was not a result of grading issues.” The representative added in a statement to Insider that an additional investigation of possible physical abuse was also underway.
Tirado responded in a statement to People, denying the school district’s allegations against her. “I have been teaching in Florida schools approximately 17 years,” she began. “Until this year, I have never had any of these types of accusations thrown at me.”
Tirado went on to explain that she believed some of the school systems in Florida and other states are “committing fraud” by awarding undeserved grades to students who do not complete their work. “The whole system is set up to be fraudulent,” Tirado told People, “so they can get federal funding for their schools.”
Tirado’s aim, she explained, was to create a “movement of change.”
Good morning! It is around 3 am and I cannot sleep. Thoughts of the last few days will not leave my brain. I feel…
Following her termination, the veteran teacher spoke on behalf of her fellow educators on Facebook, describing those in the profession as “loving souls” who want to see their students succeed. After reflecting, Tirado returned to Facebook to post a call to arms.
“Calling all parents! Only you can make lasting change,” Tirado began, posting on Sept. 27, 2018. “Please organize, go to your school districts and speak out against this grading policy. Your voices will be the ones to create policy change.”
“Help me to bring back sanity to our schools,” Tirado added. “Our children will be better human beings for it.”
Shortly thereafter, Tirado started an online petition to end the “no-zero” grading policy. To date, the petition has gained 369 supporters, just over one third of the desired goal. She continues to campaign for stricter education protocol on social media.