Skip to content

Course Structure for Non-K12 Schools with Rolling Enrollment (No Academic Terms)

December 7, 2011

This article aims to answer the following question:

How do we best structure classes/courses if we don’t have academic terms?

QuickSchools relies on the concept of academic terms in order to archive grades. When an academic term is archived, it becomes read-only, and safeguards your data from inadvertent changes in the future. Here’s how it works:

In QuickSchools, you can define multiple academic terms. However, only one academic term can be active at any one time. All other inactive academic terms are effectively archived (read-only). You can of course activate any academic term at any time, but you’d have to coordinate it with your staff. This is because when users make changes to subjects and grades, it only effects the current activated academic term. You can check out our blog post about “Creating New Academic Terms (and New Gradebooks)

Only one academic term can be active at one time

So what happens if your school does not have academic terms? For example, if you have a 9-week program that starts in early November, then another 6-week course that starts 2 weeks later (i.e. courses start and end independently of one another), how would I structure my academic terms?

The short answer is you wouldn’t use the academic terms in QuickSchools at all. The downside is you won’t be able to archive your grades, since the academic term is always active. So the subjects and grades can always be accessed (with the proper privileges). And since all subjects are always active, your report cards will function more like a Transcript (more on this later).

In this article, we discuss three ways to set up your courses, so that they are easy to manage despite the absence of the Academic Terms module.

Method

Advantages

Disadvantages

Basic / Intuitive Most intuitive way of setting up classes/programs and courses/subjects. A student can only be linked to ONE program. Need to create multiple student records if student re-enrolls for another program.
Alternative / Flexible Most flexible way, since student records can be linked to multiple programs. Slightly less intuitive because students are linked to a “General Enrollment” class, and programs are stored as courses.
Simple / Limited Simplest method in terms of re-applying courses to programs because courses are stored as subject criteria. No actual subjects are stored in the account, so scheduling or subject-based attendance cannot be used.

Before you begin:

Before you begin, you will need to set up a few Advanced Features. Just go to “Features” and click on the “Or click here to edit overall settings” link. From there, make sure the “New Semester Setup” feature is not assigned to anybody (since nobody will need it), and check off the “Turn on college-level settings” check box. This will turn on the “Class Setup” module that will appear along your top navigation bar.

Turning on the Class Setup module

Classes/Programs are listed based on Academic Term

Introduction to the Class-Course Structure

Classes, courses and sections are organized in a hierarchy. At the top of the hierarchy are classes (accessible via the newly activated “Class Setup” menu). After that you can create several courses linked to each class (under the “Courses menu). And each course can have an abbreviation which effectively works like a section for the course. Here’s an example:

Class (Grade)

Subject

Abbreviation (Section)

1st Grade

English 1

ENG-1A (i.e. English 1 Section A)

1st Grade

English 1

ENG-1B (i.e. English 1 Section B)

Basic Hierarchy of typical K-12 school

Hierarchy of Programs, Courses and Sections


Just keep this in mind when as we discuss how to structure your class and courses in the sections below. Some additional things to note:

–          A student can only be linked to one class (i.e. a student can’t be in 1st grade and 2nd grade at the same time)

–          A student can however be enrolled in courses from different classes (i.e. a student can be enrolled in 1st grade English as well as 2nd grade English)

We will now go through a few example course structures.

METHOD 1: Basic / Intuitive Course Structure

The most intuitive option for small schools is to organize the classes as programs that you offer. Each program would then have courses attached, followed by sections for each course. Here is an example:

Class (Program)

Course

          Abbreviation (Section)        

English as a Second Language (ESL)

ESL Grammar 1

Grammar 1 (Section A)

English as a Second Language (ESL)

ESL Grammar 1

Grammar 1 (Section B)

Academic and Career Entrance (ACE)

Ace Communication

Communication 1 (Section A)

Basic Course Structure (Most Intuitive)

Although this is the most intuitive, the limitation here is that a student record can only be linked to ONE class / program. The student’s “Year Level” is a simple dropdown, and only one class/program can be selected:

A student can only be linked to one Class/Program (per academic term)


So if a student completed English as a Second Language (ESL), and would like to enroll into Academic and Career Entrance (ACE), you would need to create a new (separate) student record for Academic and Career Entrance (ACE), in order to maintain the subjects and grades linked to the original English as a Second Language (ESL) program. Each program would get its own report card. And the original student record can be archived (by saying that the student graduated / has left the school).

So what about enrollment dates? How would I keep track of when students start/end each program?

To solve this, we recommend creating additional classes for the sole purpose of tracking the enrollment start and end dates. Based on the original example, you can create additional classes as follows, without any courses:

Class (Program with Intake Info)

Course

Abbreviation

English as a Second Language (ESL) – Jan 1

English as a Second Language (ESL) – Feb 1

Additional Classes to keep track of Intake

The student would be enrolled into the “English as a Second Language (ESL) – Jan 1” class (which has no subjects), but take subjects from the original “English as a Second Language (ESL)” class.

Sample Report Card using the Basic/Intuitive Method

If you only offer ONE program, and a student is unlikely to take multiple programs, then this method is recommended for you.

METHOD 2: Alternative / Flexible Course Structure

Another option for small schools that have rolling enrollment is to simply maintain ONE class. We would give it an arbitrary name, like say “General Enrollment”. You would then structure all your courses underneath this one class. And your students are free to enroll into any of your available courses. Here is an example:

Class

Course (Program)

Abbreviation (Subject/Section)

General Enrollment

English as a Second Language (ESL)

ESL Grammar 1

General Enrollment

English as a Second Language (ESL)

ESL Speaking 1

General Enrollment

Academic and Career Entrance (ACE)

ACE Communication 1

Alternative Course Structure (Most Flexible)

In this case, you would have multiple courses with the same name, but use different abbreviations to denote the different areas (Grammar, Speaking, etc) with the same course (ESL). In contrast to the previous Basic Course Structure, a student using this alternative approach would be able to enroll in both ESL and ACE courses using the same student record.

In terms of tracking enrollment dates, we would create additional courses that would keep track of the start and end date of the program. Here’s an example:

Class

Course

Abbreviation (Program with Intake Info)

General Enrollment

English as a Second Language (ESL)

ESL : Jan 1 – Feb 20

General Enrollment

English as a Second Language (ESL)

ESL : Feb 1 – Mar 31

Additional Courses/Sections to keep track of Intake

The student would always be linked to the “General Enrollment” class. However, in additional to enrolling into subjects of specific programs, the student would also enroll into one course that contains the start and end date of the program.

Subjects actually appear as Sections in the Alternative / Flexible Approach

If you have multiple classes/programs to keep track off, and want something flexible, then this method is recommended for you.

METHOD 3: Simple / Limited Course Structure (using Subject-Specific Criteria)

The first two methods mentioned above covers most non-K12 schools. However, there are some further simplifications that can be made, if you’re willing to make do without certain flexibilities.

Let’s recap:

  1. If you’re not using academic terms, then grades are never archived because academic terms are never archived. You can access/change subjects and grades at any time (assuming you have the privileges)
  2. Since there are no academic terms, the Report Cards function like a Transcript, since it will display all subjects that student has ever taken.

With this in mind, there is a third level of categorization available to us. The Report Cards module has an optional functionality called the “Subject-Specific Criteria”, which allows you to further refine how subjects are graded. This is what the complete breakdown would look like in terms of hierarchy, using our original example:

Class

Course (Program)

Abbreviation (Intake Info)

Criteria (Subjects)

General Enrollment

English as a Second Language (ESL)

ESL – Jan 1

Grammar

Speaking

Etc…

General Enrollment

English as a Second Language (ESL)

ESL – Feb 1

Grammar

Speaking

Etc…

General Enrollment

Academic and Career Entrance (ACE)

ACE – Jan 1

Communication

Etc…

Simple but Limited Course Structure

Notice that similar to the Alternative Flexible Course Structure, programs and enrollment info are stored within the courses. However, actual courses/subjects would be stored within the subject-specific criteria.

Subjects appear as Criteria in the Simple / Limited Approach

The drawback of this approach is that since there are no actual subjects in your account, you would not be able to set up an automated schedule or take subject-based attendance. But this is by far the simplest approach, when it comes down to tracking report cards / transcripts.

Summary of Approaches

So in summary, we would recommend one of three methods:

Basic / Intuitive

Alternative / Flexible

Simple / Limited

Programs are stored as Classes. One single “General Enrollment” class. Programs are stored as Courses. One single “General Enrollment” class. Programs are stored as Courses.
Courses are stored as Courses. And Sections are stored as Sections (if required) Courses are stored as Course Abbreviations or Sections Courses are stored as Subject-Specific Criteria. Without actual subjects, scheduling and subject-based attendance are not available.
Store program start/end dates in the Class/Program Store the program start/end dates in the Course Abbreviation Store the program start/end dates in the Course Abbreviation
Student can only be linked to ONE program. Need to create a duplicate student record in order to maintain the previous student record. Student can be linked to MULTIPLE programs Student can be linked to MULTIPLE programs

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s