For at least the last five years, my wife and I have been beating our heads against a wall, trying to keep track of the learning progress of our two youngest children.
Circa 2015, West Fargo Schools made a district-wide decision to change the grading type from a standard ABCDF to a 1234 system, citing state requirement. My wife and I tolerated the system until 2018, when I finally voiced my opinions to our children’s school administrators and teachers. At the administration level, we were told the state is “mandating” this type of grading system. The teachers we spoke with, however, seemed to disagree with the decision to change to this system. However, they had no recourse to object and were basically told, “this is how it’s going to be.” With this, I emailed the North Dakota Department of Public Instruction and received a response from Kay Mayer, stating the state was not mandating this type of grading system, but was encouraging its use. So, which is it? As usual, finger pointing ensues.
During this time, I also showed the administrators and teachers how parents had zero access to these particular student’s grades through the PowerSchool app as it was currently being used. Our oldest, thankfully, was still on the old system, and we had full access to their grades, which I showed the staff. When I switched to the other two kid’s files, nothing. They were surprised at this and stated they would work on rectifying it.
Fast forward to the current day, each Monday, I get emails with my children’s grades for the past week. As to the oldest, I am completely aware of where they stand. For the other two, the emails are still blank, over a year after bringing this issue to the attention to school staff.
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Over the past month, West Fargo Schools has begun pushing a new website and app, Schoology. It would appear this is their fix to the issue. However, new issues have arisen. Registering for the new software is a nightmare. Each student is given a “personal access code,” which is provided to parents for use during the account creation. My wife used this to create her account. I went to create an account to log in, and the code no longer works. In today’s society with all sorts of family demographics, not all parents are on speaking terms and it would behoove them to use a system which allows creation of multiple accounts for each child. Moms, dads, step-moms, step-dads, grandparents, aunts and uncles, other guardians….. there’s more than one person that would be concerned about the progress of a child, and they can’t all use the same login. Once into the software, which you must log into on a website/computer, as the app doesn’t work, the grades are so buried within that it’s difficult to monitor and decipher.
Every other parent we’ve talked with despises this new system. They say they have no idea how their children are doing in school, but just deal with it because it’s too hard to do anything about and fix. Well, if we’re not going to work to better our children, then what’s the point of anything at all?
In a study released earlier this year by the American Institutes for Research (“Effects of States’ Implementation of College- and Career-Ready Standards on Student Achievement” 4/19) reviewing the progress of students under the Common Core mindset show that children are worse off now than prior to the implementation of Common Core. I bring this up for one reason only; sometimes, things as they are, work fine. There was no issues with the ABCDF grading system, which had been used since the latter part of the 19th Century. Hence, why change things? All these changes have only served to frustrate parents to the point of throwing in the towel. We’ve all seen videos, posts, and memes of parents trying to help their children with their Common Core homework and having zero clue how to do it. We all laugh, muttering “yup” under our breath, and go on with our lives. This grading system elicits the same responses. It’s not helping our kids, and is only serving to frustrate parents to the point of no longer caring.