Happy Groundhog Day! The Fall Semester Will Almost Be Over. Maybe.

My final grades are due the morning of February 1st, 2019 for the first semester of the 2018-2019 school year in my district.

Seems odd that grades associated with a season that ended last calendar year would be turned in the day before Groundhog Day.

Seems odd that grades for the fall semester be turned in after some winter sports have already had their “Senior Nights” and other sports are in the thick of conference play.

Seems odd that grades for the fall semester would be turned in about 40 days into the “winter.”

And report cards for students and parents will not be ready for a while after that as the LEA’s have to compile the data and report it accordingly. And then some systems have to deal with this:

School districts across North Carolina are delaying release of new student report cards and are revising earlier report cards because of a statewide software glitch that potentially miscalculated thousands of grades.

A software error in the PowerSchool PowerTeacher Pro application used by many North Carolina teachers to enter their grades caused some student grades from the first quarter of the school year to be incorrectly rounded up or down. Schools have been reviewing their grades, with several announcing that they’re delaying the release of second quarter/first semester report cards that would typically be sent to families in late January or early February – News & Observer on January 25th

There is no question that technology is an important tool.

But when so many students have to complete standardized tests (when research shows that students do better with pencil / paper tests) and the wireless internet can not handle the bandwidth or simply goes down, it affects student achievement.

And when the very program that is supposed to ease the work of teachers and schools to streamline data and grading information causes more work for school systems who are not only rushing to complete standardized tests but having to navigate all of the parameters, it affects schools.

And when that stress gets somewhat manifested in school test scores that then get processed by an outside entity to spit out school performance grades that “rank” schools by an unfair process which weighs achievement over growth, then the entire state system suffers.

Oh, and that outside entity is also supposed give teachers and schools EVAAS data to help guide instruction, but it doesn’t come until rather late in the very fall semester that we are about to finish.

Give schools calendar flexibility without need for waivers, stop relying so much on outside entities for data processing, allow for schools to offer tests in the format best for student achievement, and …

let the fall semester actually end in the same calendar year as the very season it is named for.

Happy Groundhog Day.