It’s a fairly open secret that one of our current build projects is an online markbook (or gradebook if you’re that way inclined). We’ve been working closely with a group of partner schools on the design, and as we head towards the next phase of testing we’ve started discussions about roll out.
I wanted to share a few of the common requests I’ve seen that we think may be a mistake if you are also planning to roll out any centralised marking of this style.
Mistake 1: Do everyone at once
A central markbook is quite a shift from the individual books/Excel documents you have now, but moving the whole school in one hit is a big change. You want to trial it with a small group first, make them your champions, the evangelists that can help you deploy at larger scale.
They’ll also help you figure out any technical issues in a nice low profile way before hundreds/thousands are let loose on it…
Mistake 2: Do everything at once
Yes, you could force your staff to enter every single mark they ever give in to your shiny new central markbook. But, do you really need it all? It might help you keep tabs on who is doing what, but is there really a lot to be gained?
Why not start smaller- add the data you can really learn something from? Is there really any value to students in making your teaching staff enter every single homework grade?
Give me a reason to enter the data. Whole school assessments, levelled pieces of work- these have a useful analysis reason to be centralised.
There’s a great (unattributed) quote about not fattening a pig by weighing it. You should look that up for data discussions.
Mistake 3: Do everywhere at once
With all this now online, you could share it with students and parents and broadcast general trends to the world but you don’t need to immediately. Give your staff a chance to get used to it before adding the public pressure.
You may even find your wider stakeholders aren’t interested in the same things you are. For example, in one conversation I discovered that a majority of parents were not interested in how their child compared to the average of their year group in any measure. Just because you like the pretty graphs doesn’t mean everybody does. Ask questions.
It’s a consistent message from us, but one people keep asking us about. The best way to manage any major change you think your institution needs to undertake is to start small, ground
up. It’s not as easy as broadcasting the orders from the front, but it’s the right way.