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Producing report cards: Does it have to be so tedious?

April 1, 2009

If you’re a teacher or school administrator, you’re probably part of the report card generation process. And chances are, you’ll agree with me that in most cases, it’s tedious. First of all, every report card must be passed to every subject teacher. Some teachers take a little bit longer to enter their grades. Some may even be on sick leave, leaving documents stranded half-way through. Whether or not this takes place manually using pieces of paper, or electronically using a shared location, it can be frustrating.

Then after all the grades and comments are keyed in, the report cards are usually passed on to a homeroom teacher for their overall assessment.

At some schools, it’s then passed on to the principal for comments and for a final-look over. Finally, it can be bound together (if it’s paper), or printed (if it’s electronic), and then mailed or passed to the student.

If you’re talking about a school with 500 students, the above process has to be done 500 times, and 2-4 times a year.

How can it not be tedious!

Which is why I get so much joy whenever we implement QuickSchools.com at a new school. Invariably, the first feature we roll-out is the grading and report card module. I think it’s a work of art at how our approach makes it so much easier on teachers during the report card generation process. And to see the teachers amazed at the end of a grading session, well, that’s really satisfying.

How do we do it?

Well, first of all, we can’t claim all the credit. We owe our approach to the supply chain software industry. You see, in supply chains, the processes and volume of transaction are magnitudes higher than in the report card generation process. Supply chains also involve many people, with differing levels of computer ability. They’ve been forced to discover and implement innovative approaches to collaborate effectively in the supply chain.

So, we simply borrowed the concepts. (Oh, and it helps that some of the key designers of the QuickSchools.com software came from a supply chain background).

Here are some key ideas behind our report card generation flow:

  • The system remembers what you were working on. When you log into the grading module, the system presents you with the students from the class/subject that you were last grading. So you can get right to it.
  • The system only shows you what you haven’t worked on yet. If you’ve alredy graded 5 students out of 15, the system remembers this and only shows you the 10 students you haven’t graded yet. So again, you can get right to it. (But don’t worry, you can always see the students you’ve graded a click away).
  • The system only shows you what you need to work on. You don’t see the whole report card, you just see the fields that you need to make an assessment, and the fields you should fill in. So the screen is uncluttered and simply.
  • The system automatically routes the report card. When you’ve done your part, the system routes the grades to whoever needs to see and act on it next.
  • The system allows people to work concurrently. Multiple teachers can enter their section in at the same time. No need to wait for a lock to be cleared, no need to wait for a piece of paper to arrive at your pigeon hole.
  • The system allows for reverts. If you notice a mistake, you can revert a section back to the appropriate teacher.
  • The system gives full visibility into the status of the report card. See who hasn’t filled in their part yet.
  • The system automatically generates the report card based on your template. Once everyone has done their part, you can generate and print the report cards in one click. The report card is completely customizable.

See the following picture which shows an English teacher grading attainment and effort, two sample fields. The system doesn’t burden you with extraneous fields. Just see what you should fill in. It doesn’t get any easier than this.

simple-grading1

Check out this video presentation which shows graphically how our grading process helps schools.

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