SIS: A Useful But Challenging Gradebook App

By Adam Ashley, Photo Editor

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Grades are important to many
students, and while they are high priority
for teachers, some students have begun to
worry when, towards the end of the quarter,
they have very few grades available on SIS.
SIS is the Student Information System, and
it is where grades are put in, attendance is
kept, and student information is held. SIS
access is available to all students and parents
online, and is up 24/7, with the exception
of when it is down on teacher work
days.
The trouble, as aforementioned, is
when the end of a quarter or semester gets
closer, and students have very few grades
in SIS. Some students may get worried; if
they bombed a test toward the beginning of
the quarter, and have had no grades since
then, it ends up looking like they may fail
the quarter, even if they have done well the
rest of grading period.
“Some of my teachers put my grades
in really fast, but others take a really long
time,” states Meghna Vemuri (9). “I understand
that they have a lot of classes and a lot of work, but I feel like it just stresses students
out sometimes.”
The fact of the matter is that school is
already a stressor for many students, and although
students aren’t pressured by the school
to have grade anxiety, certain students just can’t
help but worrying about the difference between
a 92% and a 93 in a class.
The county rule, as found on the FCPS
website, is that “teachers are expected to grade
assignments and post grades to the electronic
gradebook within seven school days after the
due date with the understanding that major
projects/papers may require additional time to
ensure quality feedback.” Now, it is easily understandable
when teachers are just a few days
later than that; teachers are busy, have many
classes, and obviously have personal lives. But if
students are struggling to keep up their grade,
having no information on SIS after a long period
of time can become an issue.
“It can affect my work, because the
grade that I see doesn’t represent what is actually
happening, so I don’t know what I need to
do to get the grade I want,” says Annie Stamp
(9). And that’s the root of the issue: when you don’t know what you can do, how can you do it? The
purpose of SIS is for easy access to your gradebook.
When the key piece is missing, it becomes a major
irritation for some students.
But there is more to look at. Certain teachers
have complained that SIS is a buggy system, and
it doesn’t always work when you are trying to input
grades. This could definitely be part of the problem;
in fact, there have been times where SIS has crashed
at the end of the grading period, making it impossible
for teachers to update their student’s gradebooks.
“I’m a big believer of getting grades in as
soon as possible,” states Ms. Lewis, the FCHS Latin
teacher, “so that students know what they need to
do. However, I believe SIS is a poorly designed system,
that makes it very difficult for teachers to put in
grades efficiently and effectively.”
Grade sheets also come into play. When SIS
crashes, and teachers can’t get into the gradebook,
they cannot accurately fill out sports grade sheets;
this means that student athletes may be getting in
trouble for missing grades on their sheets, when it is
neither the student nor the teacher’s fault that their
sheet was not filled out. Students have much to focus on already:
extracurriculars, finishing school work, and
more; time to worry excessively about grades just
isn’t in some kids’ schedule. “I’m a busy person,”
explains Bri Avendano (12). “When I don’t see
grades, I cannot accurately judge how I’m actually
doing in a class, which tends to worry me.”
Teachers are undoubtedly busy as well, and hearing the complaints about grades, as
they most probably do, can become a bother to
some. The communication between students and
teachers can be lacking, which is a problem that
both parties can fail to address.
SIS is important, and can be a useful tool
for teachers, students, and parents alike. But
problems can arise when a lack of communication stemming from a sometimes-broken
application occur. Inability to access the
gradebook, both by students and teachers,
can result in stressed out students, and busy
teachers doing extra work at the last minute.
SIS will undoubtedly stay for a long time,
but hopefully the bugs in the system will be
worked out allowing it to continue to be a
useful application

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SIS: A Useful But Challenging Gradebook App