A Shrewdness of Apes

An Okie teacher banished to the Midwest. "Education is not the filling a bucket but the lighting of a fire."-- William Butler Yeats

Wednesday, April 02, 2008

You think this machine is your friend

Apparently, teachers and students weren't the only things that took a vacation over spring break in Evansville, Indiana. A whole month's worth of grades hit the road too, never to be seen again. By the way, check out the explanation from IBM engineers:
A computer malfunction wiped out a month's worth of grades at three high schools and one middle school, giving struggling students a second chance but dismaying others.

The Evansville-Vanderburgh School Corp. announced on its Web site that the malfunction occurred during spring break.

Students at Harrison High had mixed reactions, depending on how the second semester was going for them, senior Ibrahim Dughaish said Monday.

"Some are really upset because they worked hard for five weeks," but others saw it as a reprieve, he said.

"My son is an honor roll student and I prefer him keep his grades. He works hard for them," said parent Teresa Hayes.

Upcoming report cards at the four schools will not be issued as scheduled. Instead, the final two weeks of the current six-week period will be combined with the final six weeks of the year into an eight- week reporting period.

Harwood Middle School Principal Mike Raisor said some of his teachers had printed out grades before spring break, but most had not.

"I think the reality set in with everyone that you couldn't do anything about it. They took it pretty well in stride," Raisor said.

The school district's announcement said IBM engineers determined the loss of data was caused by "an unfortunate and very rare combination of hardware problems and backup configuration settings."

Whattaya wanna bet that there's going to be a directive for teachers to start printing out paper copies of grades at least once every few days now? And that's probably a good thing, although it kind of defeats the purpose of the whole "paperless" idea, and creates double work for teachers-- but nothing new there, really.

And I don't know about you, but in most school districts around here, it's high-stakes testing time, and then after that, pull those kids off the fire, because they are done. So the grades that were lost really aren't replaceable in any sense.

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At 4/2/08, 12:20 PM, Blogger Dr Pezz said...

This is why I save all of my grades on my hard drive and the school server even if we use an entirely independent grades system. I'm too paranoid not to do so.

At 4/2/08, 1:01 PM, Blogger Mrs. Chili said...

I'd be paranoid, too. I don't use my school's grade program because our portal is ALWAYS crashing - I keep grades on my computer at home, and I back that bad boy up every week or two.

Did anyone else choke a little on this sentence?

"My son is an honor roll student and I prefer him keep his grades. He works hard for them," said parent Teresa Hayes.

You've got a little pronoun problem, there, Teresa! Yikes.

At 4/2/08, 1:58 PM, Blogger Clair Dickson said...

Okay, I'm way too paranoid to not have a paper copy of my grades. Technology has eaten too many of my things to not have redundant copies. In fact, last term, one of my grades files got corrupted and I had to go back to the paper sheet and re-enter them. (No break for students in my classes!)

I also like to have a paper copy of my attendance too.

Gotta wonder though, if the grades glitch was caused by any students... not that that hasn't happened before. =P

At 4/2/08, 7:18 PM, Blogger EHT said...

I agree with Clair....I still keep a pen and paper gradebook for certain occaisions like the one you describe. Also, I just love the little bitty squares just waiting for my notation. I have this wierd system of checking things off etc. and that's the main reason why I still do it, but boy, does it come in handy....

At 4/2/08, 8:34 PM, Blogger Mike in Texas said...

I've warned against this very thing happening in my district many times. So far we've been lucky (or our tech people have been good).

At 4/2/08, 9:42 PM, Blogger Rita said...

I use my own software - our district software is terrible. But I also keep a traditional gradebook, so if I did lose everything, I could rant and rave and have a tantrum over it, and then re-type it all.

I also back up everything about once a month to both the district server and a jump drive. I'm not super trusting of our IT department.

In general, though, I could a chunk of grades for any given student and it wouldn't affect their final average -- the little buggers are remarkably consistent.

At 4/3/08, 11:59 AM, Anonymous Betty said...

Did we make back up copies of our old gradebooks in case they were lost or stolen? I never did, but I don't trust computers as much as the traditional gradebook. Averaging grades is a whole lot easier with computers, but it can all disappear with a blink.

At 4/3/08, 12:07 PM, Anonymous hobbitt said...

Somebody didn't make backups. We use a new net grade book that we are assured backs up every night.

Though now we have internet issues and can't connect.

Students have asked me "what if it crashes?".

"then you all have A's. I'm not going to try to recreate your grades."

At 4/3/08, 2:17 PM, Blogger fillyjonk said...

Don't say that, hobbitt! Someone may just be clever enough to hack into the system and destroy the online gradebook AND its backups.

On my campus, we had issues with an online system - a disgruntled former employee hacked into it and committed some "vandalism." I don't remember if grades were affected but the security on the site was upped (and more backups made) after that.

At 4/3/08, 3:00 PM, Blogger "Ms. Cornelius" said...

We HAVE to use the software provided by the district, and it has changed almost every year for the last several years. There once was a program called GradeMachine, and I loved it, but it is gone, sadly gone. It takes a good five minutes to sign into this program we have now. You can't see how many tardies a kid has in this program nor can you see attendance, but meanwhile, we are supposed to toggle back and forth between two programs to access this information. It is maddening.

And I will admit, I don't keep a paper grade book any more. I do not have the time. Seriously. But every now and then I try to print off the grades from the district program. It takes about five minutes per class.

At 4/3/08, 4:49 PM, Blogger Rita said...

Grade Machine is what I use -- bought it for myself years ago and haven't even bothered to update it. It is still lovely and lovable. Our district hasn't mandated anything at this point (we don't really like to mandate anything in our neck of the woods) because we are apparently paying a LOT of money for a beta version of SIS that is a)poorly designed and b)full of bugs. Ah well. Why should we deserve decent software?

At 4/4/08, 3:50 AM, Anonymous Tanya said...

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