Ava Seccuro co-editor-in-chief
The recent rollout and implementation of the Schoology learning management system (LMS) has received backlash from both students and teachers despite preparations since January 2019.
BHUSD first introduced Schoology as a replacement grading system for Jupiter because of its ability to connect to the Aeries Portal more fluidly, which provides the state with data such as grades, standardized test scores and school profiles to determine the district’s standings. The Board of Education first approved the new program during a School Board meeting on Jan. 15, 2019 and immediately began beta testing through teachers in the visual arts and social studies departments.
The problem this year, however, is that other teachers who were not assigned to beta test the program were left to learn the necessary software and integrate it into their classrooms with little opportunities for training during designated professional development times.
Although social studies department chair and government/economics teacher Catherine Pincu was a “willing soldier” to test out Schoology, she was “frustrated” with the fact that training sessions were offered on a voluntary basis during the summer– a legally scheduled as vacation time–and has left all teachers on different levels of proficiency with the program.
“I was willing to go to all of the trainings. My room is still [undecorated] because every free moment that I had that I wasn’t using on my grading and teaching I was trying to learn that program,” she said.
The rollout process has been “chaotic” according to junior Cosie Prisand. Since multiple teachers are using up to three different grading platforms, it’s difficult to switch into other classes using a different program, and it’s even harder to check grades between different courses, Prisand said.
Although administration has been preparing for the rollout since last year and is now trying to balance the many changes taking place on campus, Kim Decatrel, the assistant principal supervising instruction, said that the integration of Schoology is causing a “tension” because of the urgent need for growth combined with a lack of delivery caused by “doing too much at one time.”
“Our job as a community of educators is to support one another through the growing pains. The growth cannot be avoided or we will be left behind,” Decatrel said.
Both Pincu and photography teacher Tim Briggs experienced these “growing pains” firsthand. Due to problems with the program such as delayed website reaction times, incomplete class rosters, inefficient file uploads and bugs, Pincu said that she had to switch back to Jupiter because it was the third week of school and her students needed to know their grades in order to finalize their classes and her roster.
Despite also having issues with the Schoology interface and even originally choosing Jupiter over Schoology in a staff vote, Briggs “kept at it” and is using Schoology full time in the classroom.
He also sees the benefits of Schoology in the classroom such as more effective interactions between students and teachers.
“Everybody loves Jupiter and so do I, but I see [Schoology] as something that we just have to start working toward. It’s going to take time,” Briggs said. “I know everybody is having a rough time right now; I’m just stubborn enough that I was not willing to jump back to Jupiter. I am by no means saying I’m an expert, but I’ve got it working.”
One thing the district could have done to improve the assimilation process would have been to let teachers know to switch their files from Jupiter to Schoology last year, Briggs added.
Students are “confused” and generally feel the transition to Schoology as “a lot harder” Prisand said. She recommends that the school not only address the parents individually but the students as well to make the process easier.
While administration focused most staff development time last year on addressing WASC, Decatrel said that they intend to dedicate all professional development time this year to learning Schoology.
Regardless of the variety of responses from students and teachers alike, everyone must fully transition to Schoology by the beginning of the next semester.