Meyuns Gradebook Pilot 2021


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Project Summary

Need: Director BEA's effort to reduce teachers' non-instruction tasks; Master Plan 4.1 Strengthen the Student Data and Education Management Information Systems to facilitate school and Ministry effectiveness; Need for efficient way to enter data into the Student Info System 2020.
Purpose: Pilot project to digitize Meyuns Elem's students' performance record processes.
Developer: Edwel Ongrung, Administrative Services Manager, BEA.
Local Partner: N/A
Status: Successfully completed and turned over to MOE on June 18, 2021.
Next: MOE decides if a system based on the pilot should be implemented and take the next steps. If MOE decides to implement this digital gradebook process, then

  • The immediate next step is to develop the app that will replace the Edwel Ongrung in processing gradebooks and generating reports. This will take about 10 weeks, so if the plan is to generate SMQPRs for Q1 SY2022, then development should start ASAP.
  • Parallel to the above, someone needs to hired to actually tie the gradebook process to the new SIS, to resolve issues as teachers begin using the system, and to add features that schools and teachers identify that make the system more relevant to them.

Background

In August 2017, in a short meeting with the Director of BEA regarding MAP and MOE Metrics, he requested that the Administrative Services Manager look into how MOE reports could be more relevant and useful to the schools and to teachers especially. This prompted a review of the existing Student Information System and the character of the reports to the Principals' quarterly meetings, and various resources (eg., TCinGC) that could be marshalled to help the situation.

In the last two quarters of SY 2018 (Jan to May 2018) a successful demo was carried at Meyuns Elementary School, working the Principal Tabelual and Ms. Zenaida Orak, to enter Meyuns Report Card data for SY2018. This demo showed that the report card process can be digitized. Since report cards are produced on a tight schedule, the data is timely. Further, the completeness of the student data can be used to generate timely reports that is more relevant to schools and teachers, basically supplementing and improving the way they already use report card data at their schools.

In the summer of 2020, a TCinGC student consultant, Ms. Vrinda Gupta, tackled the rebuild of the SIS (see "Student Info System 2020") so that the underlying design can support the acquisition of more data about the student, and the app can be more responsive and interactive with schools and teachers. The project was successfully completed and is now a centralized app, available to replace the old SIS.

The next step was to work on the processes at the school site so that they can efficiently feed the new SIS with the least disruptions and additional work for school staff. This became the Meyuns Gradebook Pilot 2021 project.

Below is the project's exit report by Edwel Ongrung on June 20, 2021.

Project Overview

With the completion of the new Student Information System (SIS, see "Student Info System 2020"), a pilot was started at Meyuns Elementary School.

Goal: to establish a data pipeline for the new SIS.
Objective 1: demonstrate the capability of teachers to use their own laptops to maintain an electronic gradebook.
Objective 2: demonstrate the feasibility of the teachers electronic gradebooks to be used to electronically generate student mid-quarter progress report (SMQPR), report card (RC), and student annual record and transcript (SART).
Objective 3: demonstrate the feasibility of the teachers gradebooks as a data source for SIS.

The pilot was successfully completed with the following characteristics:

  • Objective 1: Teachers were able to maintain 1st, 2nd, 3rd, and 4th quarter gradebooks using iWorks Numbers spreadsheet, and to send it in for processing using iMessage. All of this utilized their laptops and "built in" software and did not require special or custom solutions.
  • Objective 2: SMQPR and RC were generated and printed for each of the 4 quarters. SART was generated and printed for the 4th quarter.
  • Objective 3: Fourth quarter SIS data entry (the old SIS) was sourced from the teachers' gradebooks. Parameters and rules for the processes were clarified and documented.
  • Except for 1st qtr SMQPR which was delayed 1 day, all reports were generated and printed on time. Issues such as data entry errors, problems with student ids, and others were identified and resolved.
  • The pilot survived leadership change. It was started on July 23, 2020 with Principal Tabelual. Acting Principal Ngual continued after Tabelual left on January 31, 2021. New principal Tomoichi came on board on May 24, 2021 and, at a June 17 meeting, expressed her desire to continue it.

The pilot showed that:

  • teachers are at the lower end of technology literacy but are able to handle an electronic gradebook using their MOE provided laptops and the "built-in" software.
  • substantial time savings is achieved by going digital
  • data entry is reduced which in turn reduces the potential for data errors

Gradebook Paper-Based Workflow (current)

The pilot establishes a workflow that incorporates Quarterly Assessment data into the gradebook and reduces the number of data entries.

Gradebook Pilot Workflow
Gradebook Desired Workflow

There are remaining issues that need to be dealt with. The primary one is to clarify student transfer-in policy. Transfer-ins bring student data that was not initiated in the teacher's gradebook. These types of data may have to be handled by a separate process, logically the transfer-in or the student registration.

  • Teacher data entry errors are to be expected. These were dealt with by providing draft reports and feedback to teachers. This process should continue.
  • A major issue at Meyuns is the inflow of students very late into the quarter. The student has missed substantial instructional activity and the gradebook becomes incomplete. The students' grade for the quarter suffers due to missed class activities. A policy is required to address this.
  • Another major issue is inflow of students without transcripts. The demonstrative case is of an 8th grade student who came in during fourth quarter final exams. The student has no data that can be put in the gradebook and therefore cannot be handled by the gradebook system.
  • Note that data for transfer-in students should be handled by a transfer-in process, not the gradebook process. So the transfer-in process is probably the next one to look into for automation.
  • The next steps are to develop the automation capabilities and to connect the gradebooks to the SIS so that it becomes an actual data pipeline.

Basically, an app needs to be developed and deployed that:

  • reads data from the gradebooks, interacts and provides feedback to teachers, and generates the SMQPR, RC, and SART;
  • posts the gradebook data to the SIS; and
  • (in a separate pilot or project) handles transfer-in student data so that they can go into reports and SIS.

Project Detail

07/02/20 Initial first discussions with Meyuns Principal L. Tabelual, tried to arrange for a session during the convention. Note possible due to teachers being involved in presentations so decided to meet on July 22.

07/22/20 First meeting with Meyuns Principal and her teachers. They agreed to do the pilot. In the next few days, Bal and Ibed worked on teachers laptops to ensure iWork, iMessage, facetime, notes, zoom, and slack were installed and work, and set up campus wifi to ensure teachers had connections from the desks in their classrooms.

07/29/20 Meeting with Meyuns teachers to show them Vrinda's project, the new SIS, and to finalize the electronic gradebook that teachers will use on their machines. Teachers approved the gradebook.

08/01/20 Meyuns Gradebook Pilot 2021 starting workshop 1 of 2. $750 stipend budget. Covered how to use iWorks, iMessage, facetime, zoom, and slack. Teachers already received training from Marcia on zoom and iMessage. Created the Meyuns Gradebook Pilot group on iMessage which became the main means of communication and file transfer.

08/08/20 Meyuns Gradebook Pilot 2021 starting workshop 2 of 2. $750 stipend budget. Finalized the electronic gradebook, learned how to use it, developed the gradebook and grading rules, clarified the existing gradebook workflow, drafted the expected new workflow, and set the first milestone to be the upcomeing student mid quarter progress report for the 1st quarter.

08/08/20-09/09/20. Gradebook tools development by Edwel.

08/13/20 Followup meetings to continue to finalize stuff from the August 8 meeting

08/31/20 Meeting to work with teachers to resolve any issues they have and to test the gradebook tools.

09/01/20-09/08/20. Prepare the Student Mid Quarter Progress Report from the teachers' gradebooks. Jennifer Ngual is unable to use iMessage so she used Slack to send her gradebooks.

09/09/20 Technical issues with generate SMQPRs caused the Principal to move report distribution to parents to tomorrow.

09/09/20-10/02/20 Issues and errors were found in the SMQPRs. More work was done to finalize the gradebook and grading rules and further refine the gradebook tools.

10/02/20-10/08/20 Teachers submit their gradebooks to Edwel, Edwel generates quarterly progress report (QPR), report card (RC) and student annual record and transcript (SART).

10/09/20 Meyuns teachers printed their report cards and distributed them to parents. Overall GPAs did not come out so needs to be fixed going forward.

10/20/20 Completed and deployed a website to use for Meyuns data storage and distribution.

10/21/20-11/19/20 Continued addressing errors and issues with reports from the gradebooks. Used the website successfully for data storage and transfer. However, iMessage was very convenient so it remained the main means of data transfer.

11/19/20-11/20/20 Generated Q2 SMQPRs and sent to the teachers. They were able to print and distribute to parents.

12/10/20 Meyuns received 2 transfer students! Need to accomodate them in the gradebooks.

12/18/20 Teachers sent in their gradebooks

01/07/21-01/08/21 Generated Q2 RCs. Teachers printed and distributed to parents. By now things were working pretty well. There were still some issues with teachers following the coding conventions (eg., using "HW" instead of "H" for homework, etc.). Those will continue to be addressed.

02/07/21-02/11/21 Generated Q3 SMQPRs. Teachers printed and distributed to parents.

03/04/21-03/12/21 Generated Q3 RCs. Teachers printed and distributed to parents.

04/15/21-04/23/21 Generated Q4 SMQPRs. Teachers printed and distributed to parents.

05/17/21-06/02/21 Had to fix a lot of issues in order to complete Q4 RCs. Student Id errors caused a couple of students 2nd and 3rd quarter absences to be wrong. Some students were missing grades from previous quarters. Some transfer in students did not have grades for some quarters. We worked through all these issues and go the report cards completed correctly, printed and distributed to parents. Jennifer Nguals RCs were generated and printed by May 19 because that was promotional day for her 8th graders.

To dos:

  1. Policies must developed to ensure that transfer in students receive grades for every quarter.
  2. Transfer in students' previous quarter grades cannot be handled by the gradebook. A process must be developed to handle them probably in the registration process, and to post their grades to the SMQPR, RC, and SART.
  3. A policy and accompanying process must be put in place to handle students who come in very late in the quarter. For example, there was a student who came in during finals in the 4th quarter. The gradebook process cannot handle this student because there simply is no data in the gradebook for him/her.

06/04/21 Meyuns data were posted to the old SIS.

06/17/21 Met with new Meyuns Principal Ulai T. Ikesiil to orient her on the project. She seemed to like it and expressed that she wanted to move on to implementation for her school.

06/18/21 SARTs were generated and sent to Meyuns. There was no issue for the delay, just that I had retired and had retirement things to take care of.

06/23/21 Jennifer Ngual's student, Miles Remoket, has no 1st and 2nd quarter scores in the RC. Jennifer's RCs were on 05/18/21 before we implemented measures to take care of transfer-in report cards. I will generate Miles Remoket's SART and send it to Meyuns Elem.

Tools used and Lessons Learned:

  • An iWorks Numbers spreadsheet was used for the teachers' gradebooks
  • The teachers, even though most of seem to be on the low end of computer literacy, were able to adequately utilize the gradebook spreadsheet, use iMessage to communicate and transfer files, and use the demo website to review and download info and files.
  • Due to low computer literacy of the teachers, I decided to do all the computation and report generation. The most important thing is for the teacher to be able to use an electronic gradebook, to send the gradebook in for processing, and to download and print SMQPRs, RCs, and SARTs, and to be able to interact with me to make corrections to ensure the reports are correct.
  • I built some tools to process the gradebooks and generate the reports using Applescript. I would receive the gradebooks from the teachers, use the tools to process them and generate reports, and then send the reports to the teachers. If there were errors, the teachers would correct and resubmit their gradebooks and I'd repeat the process.
  • The work I did should be automated. I envision:
    • A web app receives and processes teachers gradebooks;
    • The web app generates SMQPRs, RCs, and SARTs and posts them to a website;
    • Teachers review the reports on the website and download for print;
    • If there are errors, the teacher corrects her workbook and uploads to the web app to repeat the cycle.