Teachers Required to Post Grades in Online System

Teachers Required to Post Grades in Online System

Ellie Gavin, Staff Writer

For the 2012-2013 school year, Staples teachers will be trying a new grading system that will require teachers to post scores on a regular basis using eSchool electronic grade book to aid in communication between parents, students, and teachers as well as helping students stay on top of their work.

Likewise, the administration wanted to offer the program to teachers as an alternative to spending money from their own pocket on systems like Jupiter Grades.

The eSchool system will work similarly to systems like Jupiter Grades that Staples teachers, especially in the math and science departments, are already familiar with. The online system will allow both students and parents to see their current course grades including a breakdown of each individual assignment as well as missing work. According to Mr. Dodig all Staples teachers will be utilizing this program by second semester.

Staples is following an effort begun by the Westport middle schools, which have been using the system since 2010. Coleytown Middle School principal Kris Szabo believes that the system has been beneficial to the middle school by aiding in communication between the parents, teachers, and students.

“Our initial fear was parents using it to go after teachers, but that didn’t happen,” Szabo said. “It cut down on the number of phone calls teachers got and cut down on teachers having to go after kids [about missing work].”

Despite its benefits, the system is controversial because it raises discussion about how independent high school students should be. As teenagers inch closer to adulthood, there is fear that giving parents total access will discourage their independence and responsibility.

Principal John Dodig believes that students deserve full access to their grades. “Grades are the currency of students,” Dodig said. “If my boss told me, ‘we’re not going to tell you what your salary is until January,’ I don’t think I’d like that.”

Dodig added that the response among staff has been “two-pronged.”

On one side of the argument are teachers like English teacher Brian Tippy, who feel that forcing teachers to use the system could potentially be counterproductive to their style of teaching.

“In some classes, teachers don’t want [to post a running average] because they don’t want students to think ‘I’m a B student, I’m an A student’ right then,” Tippy said. “They want them to wait and give themselves a chance.”

Math teacher Bill Walsh has different take. While he said he is not necessarily against the idea of grade transparency, he fears this system could potentially be an unnecessary distraction.

“I think it’s very important that math teachers spend a lot of time thinking about math and how to teach math,” Walsh said. “With one other aspect of communication, it takes away time thinking about that discipline and teaching that discipline.”

He added students should have an understanding of their grade without it being posted.

On the other hand, some teachers feel the system is what the students and teachers need. Italian teacher Enia Noonan, who has supported the idea for years, feels that without the posting of each grade, it can be hard for the students to understand where their yearly average comes from.

“The grades belong to the students,” Noonan said. “I really think that if you are going to give a student a grade, you need to be able to explain why.”

As for the student body, some said they are concerned about the parents having total access.

“We’re adults now, we should be moving more towards adulthood and not having our parents over-parent us,” Dana Segal ’14 said. “Some kids should be scared because they are screwed.”