J Miller's picture

WRAL Homebase response article 

NC's online system to help parents keep tabs on students

     Working in a year round school often gives us teachers sneak peeks into new state and district products.  From the conversations I have had with teachers and parents familiar with Homebase this product is awesome.  Parents are able to see their students grades, bus routes, and even lunch money account balance once all the systematic kinks are worked out.  The upgrade to Homebase was well overdue, it is truly a one-stop-shop for all things related to a students information.  I’m sure that classroom teacher and parents will love this upgrade.  One correction to the article is that elementary school staff will be using Homebase this year, the parents will not have full access to their children's information until the 2014-2015 school year.  

     My major issue with Homebase is that once again specialist are an afterthought.  Art, Music, and PE teachers are required to post semesters grades for content and participation in NC.  Specialists are masters at moulding the classroom resources and technologies to fit our unique needs.  As an example, I am a Physical Education teacher and I currently do not have my class rosters fully uploaded into Powerteacher. Powerteacher is one of the many applications found under the Homebase umbrella.  I do see the great potential for speeding up semester grade entry for 850+ students, however I don’t see how this system will legitimize our grading requirements.  The main issue is not inputting grades, its gathering the data for accurate grading for 850+ students.  Classroom teachers must observe a student 3 times per standard, per quarter, per subject. So 3 observations per subject over 5 standards is 15 observations (assessments).   For Math, Science, Writing, and Literacy using that same basic formula is 60 observations per student per quarter.  Multiply that across a class of 24 students means a classroom teacher gives 1,440 total observations per quarter and 2,880 per semester. In Physical Education we have 10 standards.  If we are held to the same guideline of 3 observations per standard, per student that would be 25,500 observations per semester and 56,000 for the year!  State and district education boards know this is currently impossible, however its not far off.  Ohio’s Physical Education requirements add up to 10,200 assessments for a school of 850 students per year. It’s also important to remember that specialists see a class for 45 minutes, 16 times per semester (excluding tracks-outs, holidays, field trips, and picture days). 

    The fact is that specialist assessments and data collection must be designed based on seeing 850 student, once a week, for 45 minutes.  Specials make up 3 of 7 grades a student receives in elementary, so it would seem fitting that specials grading be given a comparable ratio of attention. At Vitathread we totally understand that forcing a specialist to follow a classroom teachers requirements is a monumental, frustrating, underappreciated, and unrealistic effort.  We want you to know that we are working with the same tireless effort to make Art, Music, and PE teachers lives easier by designing solutions that fit YOUR needs!