[dropcap]O[/dropcap]n Friday, Dec. 2, Head of Upper School Peter Behr unveiled plans for an open gradebook pilot starting the 2017 spring semester for ninth and tenth grade level courses. What this means is that students and their parents will be able to see grades the moment they are made available in the gradebook.
Initially, the pilot will be for ninth and tenth grade level classes in English, mathematics, history and social studies, science, and world language, although it may be expanded to include fine arts in the future. The pilot is starting with only the ninth and tenth grade levels to evaluate the results and see if any changes are needed. Eleventh and twelfth grade students could not be included in the pilot even if teachers wanted to participate, as “not all classes being open could cause a greater disparity in sections of the same course taught by different teachers,” Mr. Behr wrote in an email to faculty ahead of the official announcement.
The open gradebook will be available utilizing the Veracross Gradebook and it allows for a smoother transition between grades and report cards and helps teachers to avoid reentering each grade in a different program. Although Haiku outperforms Veracross as a teaching device, the Haiku Gradebook cannot link to Veracross, so it will not be used. Haiku will still be employed as it provides a more accessible and interactive platform for content delivery.
For some subjects, including math and world language, determining which classes will be open is going to be more difficult as many math and world language classes are mixed between grade levels.
While the open gradebook policy does increase access to students’ grades by parents or guardians, Mr. Behr stressed that parents should first ask their child to speak with teachers before reaching out, in order to “help students take ownership of the educational process.”
Additionally, access to “live” grades does not mean that assignments will be necessarily be graded faster.
“Our teachers take grading seriously and must balance the demands of preparing for class, grading assignments, and their own family time. As a result, our rule of thumb is a two-week window to complete the grading of assignments. Though some teachers and particular assignments will be graded at a greater or lesser frequency than that, the Upper School faculty believes that this time frame will allow them to continue their high quality analysis and feedback of student work,” Mr. Behr explained.
Mr. Behr will be working closely with Head of Middle School Chelsea Collins, since the Middle School has also recently adopted the open gradebook. The switch to an entirely open gradebook for the Upper School is not definite, but faculty will meet later in the semester to decide the gradebook plans for the 2017-18 school year.
This transition to “live” grades is expected to add more transparency and accountability into the grading process for students and their families.
The pilot is set to start the Spring Semester of 2017 for ninth and tenth grade level classes.