Williamson County Schools Online Program: Stop grading our students until issues are fixed
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To the Williamson County Schools leadership and School Board,
While the school district is taking important steps to improve communications and consistency across the WCS Online program, there are still daily platform and instructional challenges that are impacting students, families, and teachers.
Student grades are being issued during this very difficult roll-out of the technology platform and their associated policies and procedures, and secondary students will spend the entire semester trying to recover from them. In the meantime, the stress and anguish this is causing can be easily remedied by halting the issuance of grades until some stability and consistency is in place across WCS Online.
To summarize August since online school began (after a last-minute delay of a week behind the rest of the student body):
Parents and students had limited information on Schoology and Edgenuity and teachers appeared to be learning this as we go. It's unfair for students to be graded while they are basically the guinea pigs for this onboarding and training process.
Teachers have very, very inconsistently communicated and loaded assignments into the platforms. It's been a daily scavenger hunt to figure out what's expected and when. They should all be required to use the Schoology calendar to inform families of due dates, assignments, and zoom schedules.
Edgenuity relies on students using guided notes in order to pass these very difficult and very specific quizzes - which requires printing a LOT of papers every day. How are families without this capability at home expected to use these guides the way they were intended and designed?
The quiz retake "policy" has not been communicated by all teachers. Many students have repeatedly failed quizzes, or have really poor passing grades that are well below their normal performance levels but they're stuck with them for the semester.
The middle school experience so far has involve extremely limited instructional time by WCS teachers, with some relying entirely on Edgenuity content. This was not what was communicated for this program, and instructional assistance has been difficult to come by when students are trying to ramp back up from being out of school the past 5 months.
The Edgenuity pacing was loaded incorrectly and expected students to work over weekends, and countless students spent this past weekend doing a lot of work to "catch up" before the system dates were finally adjusted on Monday.
Students are constantly losing work in Edgenuity that they've done - this is still happening even today by many accounts, with teachers not being able to see completed work and students having to redo assignments and assessments all over again.
Parents have not been given parent portal access to any of these platforms, so the only way to track student progress is to login using the student accounts. You can't do this at the same time they're in the system, or they will get kicked out and lose work. This is not sustainable and we need these learning platforms' built-in functionalities for parents ASAP.
Our immediate ask is that we wipe the slate clean for these secondary students and let them start over. So students don't get penalized for great grades they may have worked for on quizzes to date, consider adjusting the retake policy in the system so anything under a 90 can be taken again.
Please take immediate action to relieve some of the pressure and anxiety amongst the secondary student body of Williamson County Schools as we all continue to work together to improve this program and ensure success for all involved.
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