Too ‘e-Z’: Z4/Z5 policy makes finals a breeze


Kira Matheson

The welcome screen to Home Access Center, where the Z4/Z5 policy is seen in action.

With the semester coming to a close, I find myself stalking Home Access Center three times a day. My most frequented tab is the Roger Hub Finals Calculator, and I, like most AP students, am aiming for the perfect exam score to keep my grades safe.

This year, there is an unsung hero of finals season, one that has been with us since the beginning, right under our noses: the Z4/Z5 policy.

For those of you who are unfamiliar with the DGS grading system, a Z4/Z5 is a grade placeholder for incomplete work. The Z means zero, and the 4 or 5 indicate what percentage you receive, either 40% or 50% and is currently a piloted program in some classes.

In the upcoming school year, all teachers will have to adopt these procedures.

Being enrolled in so many classes, I seldom have time to do all of my work and frequently have to sacrifice one or two assignments. Receiving partial credit for assignments I haven’t done has been a blessing to my senioritis but a curse to my work ethic.

The Z4/Z5 policy creates an atmosphere of complacency in which students earn points for doing virtually no work. For major assignments, there cannot be anything lower than 40% in a student’s grade portal, granting them points for which they did no work.

In all honesty, some of my Z4 grades are saving me. I have had assignments missing since September, and I’ll (begrudgingly) take the credit. I appreciate the partial placeholder but feel coddled by the administration’s policy.

Ever since I entered high school, there was a collegiate expectation of self-sufficiency. Almost every year, I’ve had an adult launch into a speech about how no one was going to hold my hand at my university.

This new policy is a backpedal on the independence teachers so desperately want us to foster. Gaining credit, even half credit, for something I did not do is counterproductive to the development of my educational diligence.

My question is if I am to be an advocate for my grades in the future, why am I not being held accountable for my academic pitfalls now?

The answer is I am held accountable, just in a different way. The utilization of a Z5 is both a reminder that improvements need to be made and a second chance for struggling students. To me, it borders on being lazy but to others, it may be their saving grace.

They are meant to guide students down a road of academic honesty, not shame them with rows of zeros. In the end, accountability is key. Though I know my second-semester senior status is pending, I’m willing to embrace this grading practice for a little while longer.