Grades Around the Clock
After much speculation over the past few years, Packer has implemented an online grade book which allows for students to check their grades at any point during the semester, along with providing a calendar and schedule.
“I think the online grade book is a great way of getting our grades, and it works well for me,” said Isaac Aguilar (‘18). “I believe that more teachers will adopt this new way of grade books and it will be successful on all sides.”
The system that is currently being used thus far is MyBackPack, which organizes someone’s file, including their grades, schedule, and forms. The primary goal is to make it easier for students to see their grades at all times and to have one place to hold their information.
“We have had an easy flow into the use of MyBackPack because it already knows the students and who is in the class,” said Upper School Computer Science teacher Louis Minsky. “Also, it makes it easier for students to track their progress throughout the year along with access their schedule, report card, and forms.”
By the sounds of some Packer’s students and faculty, it seems as if the new online grade book has been successful so far.
“I think that we will most likely continue to use MyBackPack in the future because it is a bigger system that the faculty already utilizes,” said Mr. Minsky.
Over the course of late 2015 and 2016, some faculty members along with Student Council were working extremely hard to get the online grade book to the students as quickly as possible. After the majority of students stated that they would want an online grade book in order to manage their work, Student Council got right to it and made it their goal to get an online grade book out to the students by the fall of 2016.
“In the making of the online grade book, the Student council policy committee first wrote an initial proposal detailing pros and cons of a potential online grade book,” said Sacha Sloan (‘19), a current Student Council member. “After probing for more information from the community, we held a meeting with parents about the possible ramifications of an online grade book. We then created a complete proposal with all our data and ideas; this was given to Mr. De Jesus and the administration.”
Although the idea of an online grade book seemed wonderful at first glance, it has not made such a significant impact yet on the community according to some faculty members. When first released, many of the students and faculty believed that MyBackPack would be used daily to check up on grades and as a place to view one’s schedule online. However, as the year has progressed, not many students have utilized MyBackPack as most originally thought.
“Personally, I haven’t seen much of a difference in how students are performing in my classes after the new online gradebook,” said Dr. Saint-Pierre, Upper School French teacher. “To my knowledge, I do not get the sense that people are checking the website quite often.”
Even though this system was implemented in order to make the grading process easier on teachers and to help students check their grades throughout the course of the semester, many faculty members have expressed concerns with the program MyBackpack and find the program somewhat inefficient and non-intuitive.
“I use Gradekeeper,” said Ali Iberraken, the current ninth grade dean. “I prefer it because it gives me a lot of flexibility with how I collect my grades and gives me a very clear breakdown. Also I can show my students exactly where their overall grade comes from – for example, is it their lab reports that are bringing their overall grade down or another area they need to work on.”
Additionally, some faculty members are somewhat concerned about what an online grade book might lead to and the negative effects it may have on students.
“Students may become more focused on grades than process,” said Mr. De Jesus. “Also, I’m concerned that students might not engage their teachers as much because they already know the grades.”