Sign On The Dotted Line To Complete Your Quest.

Pretty much non-fiction.  The Edu-Mountain takes these things seriously.

Pretty much non-fiction. The Edu-Mountain takes these things seriously.

School grade reports are funny things. Every school in the district has to provide a grade report of some kind every five weeks, so that families can be notified if an intervention is needed. The whole point is to stay on top of their progress toward graduation, just in case they hit a snag that can be fixed. All told, that’s a fairly good idea…I wish that it worked out as intended more often than it does.

In order to make that happen, several steps have to take place for a teacher. The first step is the most obvious: student work needs to be collected and graded, at a minimum rate of one grade assignment per week…preferably more than that. Those grades, in turn, go into some kind of gradebook…at this point in time, most of them are some sort of digital or online spreadsheet. I traditionally used Excel, but at this point, I am experimenting with one of the many online systems that the district is fine with. Eventually, the MISIS gradebook will be fully functional, and we will all have to use that.

Once the grades are in, the spreadsheet computes the averages. Those averages either need to be exported to the grade report system on MISIS, or manually entered. Once that is done, the students have their grades in, ready to generate report cards.

There’s another step, though. If a student is getting a D or an F, teachers need to provide comments as to why that student is failing. This is a big deal, actually, and error checked by administrators in the NEXT step.

Teachers print out a report called the “Teacher Verification of Grades.” It is a roster list of the grades that you just entered, that you sign and date, saying that they are correct to the best of your ability. Administrators look at that, and check it over to make sure that everyone has a grade, and that those grades, if they are failing, have comments. And administrator can’t put comments in for you…or at least, they shouldn’t, contractually. If there’s a problem, first the form needs to be changed by the teacher, and then the teacher needs to go back in to make the changes.

It’s a surprisingly huge rigamarole that takes place every five weeks. It’s not bad at all if you stay on top of your grading, and pay attention to the time windows for turning in grades. Still…the signed “verification rosters” are an arcane holdover from a prior era. The system could just as easily check those things internally…and not let you close a window until their were comments for fails, and every student had a grade. There is no need for the paper, the signing, and the change of hands. It could be a completely paperless, automated system.

At some schools, like my last one, the grade entry was far more important than the “Verification Rosters.” The Verifications needed to be in, but it was way more important that the grades were digitally submitted in a timely fashion. At the Edu-Mountain, the expectation is that I will have my Verifications in during my conference, which is second period. Realistically, the end of the day is fine…since absent teachers can’t turn them in at all, and there are some teachers with a Last Period conference who could in fact, turn them in at the end of the day. Still, the instructions were very specific, and each school has its own procedures to navigate. I’m planning on having them ready.

This, obviously, is what the art is about. I decided to be very literal about who would be in charge of the Verifications, making the Goat Priest “clerical” staff in the most direct of fashions. It seemed on point with the metaphor of the Edu-Mountain, with some sort of “priestly” literate class, certified in arcane matters, handling the business of the Mountain and organizing the Knights of the East side, in some fashion. I felt that the Beast Form of the “clerical” staff should be something non adventurous, a farm animal of some kind…and settled on a goat, mostly because it seemed both harmless and gruff…suiting my needs. We may very well see more of Brother Goat.

The week has been tough for me, because I have two hundred students now….and the overwhelming majority of them are pretty up to date on their assignments. That’s a lot of grading, to make the report to Brother Goat.

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