IPASS, the Learning Management System (LMS) for the district, is a great way for teachers to communicate with parents. The iParent portal allows parents to view a student’s progress report and report card and, beginning term 3, teachers’ rankbooks. The latter will offer a real-time (ish) snapshot of where a student is in a particular course.

I say “ish” because grading takes time, so an essay collected today is not going to be entered today. Or even tomorrow. Essays take twenty minutes a piece to thoughtfully assess, and in a class of 26, that means close to 9 hours to assess one essay in one class out of five. With a 50-minute planning period once a day–a period that is often spent either helping students or prepping for classes (with an occasional bathroom break thrown in!), those nine hours can only happen on a teacher’s personal time–and usually on the weekends. So, IPASS offers a real-time-ish snapshot, and students are fabulously patient, knowing their teachers are doing the best they can in a world of increased assessments and decreased time.

With that said, teachers are not required to share their gradebooks with parents until Term 3. However, I shared mine in September, as I’ve found that a transparent rankbook is the most effective tool for helping my students meet the school’s 21st Century Academic Competency: “Students will assume responsibility and self-direct their own learning.” It also helps learners assume responsibility: Monitoring their grades so there are no surprises at the end of the term. Grading isn’t a “Gotcha!” On the contrary, it’s a snapshot of how well students are doing accessing the standards. And it helps students self-direct their own learning: The rankbook serves as a visual reminder for students to make up any missing work within the time allotted.

With that said, one of the biggest glitches I’ve encountered in IPASS is that as soon as I create an assignment column as a placeholder for later (e.g., an essay was collected but the grades have not yet been entered), it looks to the students and parents like the student has earned a zero in the SCORE column but has a blank in the GRADE column. The SCORE column zero just means that no data has been entered, and no zero has been factored into the overall average. A zero in the GRADE column, however, means that the student has either not submitted an assignment or earned a zero on it. And that zero gets factored into the student’s average.

The IPASS rankbook and the iParent portal is uncharted waters for all of us, so as soon as you have  question, please do not hesitate to email me at beth.hughes@wpsk12.org.

Thank you for your patience as we navigate IPASS together, and as always, thank you for your continued  support at home!