One Year Later

Implementing the Accessible Grading Proposal


Photo credit: Anna Fuder

The Parker portal offers accessible grading to students.

If a current high school student wants to check their grades in their classes, then they can go to the Portal and find their grade for their desired class. However, last year’s students did not have this opportunity and wanted to find a new way to view their grades. In order to ensure that students could view their grades without conflict, the Accessible Grading Proposal was created.

In 2017, a proposal was implemented in Student Government by then-Senate Heads Felicia Miller, Sammy Kagan, and Jenna Mansueto, in Student Government in order to make grades more accessible to students. The intent was to allow students to see their grade for all of their classes without any issues. According to the proposal, the purpose was to “ensure that students have an accurate picture of their performance in all of their classes while further increasing clarity and transparency between them and their teachers.”

While the Portal was meant as a central homework site for students in addition to a virtual grade book, the implementation of the Portal has allowed students to see their grades for certain classes. However, not all teachers have made grades available to view. While some teachers do so, others do not, and they are not bound by the proposal to give grades to students whenever they ask for them.

The Senate Heads created this proposal based on feedback from students. At a Senate meeting, a common complaint from students was the lack of ability to access their grades, due to either the teacher not posting the grade or refusing to show the student their grade. The proposal was supposed to either make teachers have grades available at all times throughout the semester or three specific times during the semester.

This proposal was then introduced to Head of Upper School Justin Brandon, who met with the Senate Heads in order to get an understanding of how it would be implemented. “Last year I began having meetings with the Senate Heads last year, as a recommendation from Ms. Barr, as traditions have been at Parker for a while, that had been lost for a couple of years,” Brandon said. “And I thought it was a good idea to start meeting with them.” By traditions, Brandon meant the meetings of the Senate Heads and the Upper School Principal, which had not been continued for the past couple of years.

The meetings concerning this proposal went on for a substantial amount of time. “In our weekly lunch meetings, they brought it up, and they shared, you know, ‘this is what we’re talking about’,” Brandon said. “So we talked about it, we ended up talking about it for a while, and the Senate

Heads presented to the Upper School faculty and staff in the fall, with a rough draft, just to kind of get a read of the community.”

Brandon feels that there are reasons why the proposal will be beneficial to the student body. “I thought it was worthwhile to have the dialogue with the faculty and staff at our divisional meetings,” Brandon said. “It was something that I think could help the community overall. I just witnessed that there was some tension between students and their teachers, kind of not understanding where they were in terms of their grade in the class, and this would create some opportunity for discussion.”

However, Brandon does feel there is room for error if the proposal is not implemented properly. “I think we just need to be careful with how the conversations occur,” Brandon said. “I just want to make sure that this is a learning opportunity, and not necessarily just someone wanting to know their grades, and to question their grade in a negative way.”

Mansueto has experienced the issue of her teachers not making her grade available in her classes. “I would say for the most part my STEM classes were pretty good about making my grades available,” Mansueto said, “but in some of my other classes I felt like I wasn’t really aware of what my grade was until the very end of the semester.”

Sophomore Nathan Siskel agrees with Mansueto and feels like he might know why he cannot see all of his grades. “Because the teachers, for whatever reason, don’t want to put it on the Portal, or maybe want is the wrong word,” Siskel said. “It’s just they don’t put it on the Portal, maybe because it’s difficult, which it is.”

However, Siskel doesn’t feel that strongly about the absence of his grade on the Portal. “I don’t really mind,” Siskel said, “and if I need to see my grade, I can just ask them and usually they’ll give it to me.”

Mansueto thinks that the proposal to make grades fully accessible would not negatively impact any student, and would have either a positive or neutral one effect. She feels that either a student is affected by the proposal and it is helpful to them because then they are aware of their grades, or it doesn’t affect them because they are already getting their grades.

Mansueto doesn’t feel that the proposal has completely fulfilled its expectations. “We definitely need to do some follow up with Mr. Brandon about this because I feel that it was the introduction of the Portal that seemed to make grades more transparent in a lot of classes,” Mansueto said. “I know this year I can see my grades on the Portal for classes where I otherwise wouldn’t have known my grade, but I’m not sure that’s a direct result of the proposal. That might just be because the Portal is in existence.”

Students, if given the option by teachers, can view their grades on the Portal whenever they want. “This year, as all of you noticed, we opened up a lot more of the Portal, and the grade book is just a feature that we thought we’d include,” Brandon said. “The online grade book is not required, it’s not mandatory here, but we know that some teachers wanted to try it out just to kind of get a sense of it and to see if it’s something they wanted to continue with.”

However, when asked what else could be improved about fulfilling this proposal, Mansueto only had one issue with the implementation. “It’s really just that there are some teachers who just aren’t following it as it’s written,” Mansueto said, “but I think for the most part the actual content of the proposal accomplishes the goal.”

Siskel thinks that there may be other reasons for teachers not following this proposal. “I mean, not every teacher knows exactly how to use the Portal and wants to spend the time each and every grade into the grade book,” Siskel said. “It’s time-consuming, and if they have better things to do, then I respect that.”

Mansueto thinks that she knows why the proposal may not have been fully implemented this school year. Since the Senate Heads finished their “negotiations” with the administration about the proposal in the middle of the second semester last year, there was not a lot of follow up on the administrative end this year. “I still know that there are some classes that I have where my grade isn’t always available, and that’s something we need to follow up with Mr. Brandon about,” Mansueto said.

Brandon has goals for preventing this issue amongst teachers who are not showing grades. “My hope is that faculty members will do that,” Brandon said. “In the case that does not happen, I’d love to hear about it so that we figure out what the hesitancy is from the faculty member.”

The Accessible Grading Proposal states among the methods of making grades known to students, that “by providing a status report three times per semester.” Siskel feels that this is already implemented in one of his classes, and enjoys it so. “Ms. Webster does that, and it’s really really nice,” Siskel said. “I think it’s a good middle ground between constantly updating our grade and never giving us our grade.”

Brandon does feel this proposal will benefit the student body as a whole. “The hope is that this encourages more dialogue and less of distance between the teacher and the student,” Brandon said. “And when those situations arise I’d love to hear about them so I can hopefully work through that with the student and the teachers, just to make sure we’re trying to support each other and providing more communication for the student.”

When asked if he thought the implementation of the Accessible Grading Proposal into all classrooms was a helpful one, Siskel said, “That’s a pretty big goal for the teachers to do, but I think that would be a great idea.”

Brandon has high hopes for the implementation of this proposal. “I want to see this as an opportunity for growth,” Brandon said.