HS Replaces Quarterly Reports with Open Grade Book

This year at UNIS, the HS administration implemented a system in which students would be able to access their grades on a regular basis. Grade 11 and 12 can now see their grades whenever they want, and 9th and 10th grade can see their criterion A, B, C, and D grades at any point in the year, but their final number grade will only available at the end of the year on the end of semester report cards.

High School principal Scott Schaffner was the person who had the idea to switch to an open grade book. He said that this change was a solution to the feedback he had received from parents about the lack of communication from teachers.

Last year there was also the issue of a strict deadline for teachers as to when they would update their students’ grades for the monthly report cards. The new system allows teachers to update the grade book after they give an assessment and have more freedom with when they give assessments.

“I must say I much prefer [having the grade book open] rather than having to fit assessments into when a report is due, but now an assessment can just be a more natural part of the learning,” said David Wiggins, an HS Math teacher.

“We used to create really nasty spikes in the number of assessments students were doing around about the time that we gave reports,” said DP Coordinator Elliot Cannell.“Now that we’ve opened the grade book, those spikes should disappear because teachers don’t have these deadlines, and hopefully, that could decrease student and teacher stress.”

MS/HS Physical and Health Education teacher Theron Tate supports the decision to make the grade book accessible to students but says there may be some negative aspects well.

“In my opinion the more information you have the better, but if you fall behind and you get in and you check your grade book it can be overwhelming and it could create a ton of stress,” he said.

A few teachers at UNIS require students to write reflections about the grades they got on assessments and explain why they got the grade they did.

“It’s always good to have that constant reflection, I think it’s better for us, to evaluate ourselves, I think that’s the important part of the open grade book,” said Grade 12 student Uyen Trinh.

This system also allows teachers to give students feedback. Students can check Veracross to see their grades and the teacher’s comments.

“I think it’s really important for you guys to be able to check in and see what your progress is,” Tate said.

However, while the purpose of the reflections is to help students, the reflections added on to other assignments from other classes only makes some students’ workload heavier.

“Sometimes it gets a little confusing and sometimes I even have to go through a reflection really quickly and it feels like I’m missing the whole point, and so it’s all about time management and sometimes I don’t have that time,” said Grade 12 student Mikaela Fenn.

In response to the amount of assignments students receive, Schaffner said, “We do have the assessment calendar on Veracross… so hopefully it’s better communication, trying to hold teachers accountable to not overload students with assessments.”

Schaffner hopes that the open grade book will improve communication between parents, students, and teachers and that it will also help students to understand what they need to do to be successful.