By: Amanda Hansen
Attleboro High School (AHS) uses Aspen, an online service for recording and viewing grades. Teachers are able to assign different weights to certain areas of work, such as class work and homework. Aspen will then calculate the final grade automatically.
In Feb., students in grades nine through eleven were able to use Aspen to request next year’s courses. The courses made available to students were based on grade level and prerequisites. These were the only classes that appeared as options, making the selection a bit easier.
“It was simpler than I thought it would be. I didn’t have to figure out on my own what classes were available and it was simple to rank electives in order of how interested I was in them,” said AHS freshman Haleigh Robinson, after using the portal for the first time.
Passwords can be reset if they’re forgotten by clicking the “I forgot my password” button below the password insert box. A pop-up box appears, and walks the user through the steps of resetting a password. Students can also talk to Scheduling Coordinator Mr. Andrew Parillo or secretary Mrs. Carolyn Bosh, both of which are located on the balcony, if a password is forgotten.
“If you’re having trouble logging on, come speak to me or Mrs. Bosh on the balcony and we’ll help you out,” said Parrillo.
Aspen allows students to view their grades whenever they need to, an advantage that wasn’t previously available. Teachers are required to update grades in Aspen at least every two weeks, but it is done at the teacher’s discretion.
“I like Aspen because I feel like I have more power and control about my grades and how I’m doing. I can go onto Aspen and figure out what I’m missing for every class, get it all done, and pass it all in without needing to come after school to talk to my teachers one at a time,” said AHS senior Shaun Monast.
As simple and convenient as Aspen is, it can take some getting used to. “There are some aspects that aren’t great. Navigating the site can be a bit cumbersome,” said Parrillo.
With Aspen, parents also have easier access to their children’s grades and progress in school. Instead of having to speak with individual teachers, parents can view everything in one convenient place, the Aspen Parent Portal.
“Parents have their own log-in through the Aspen Parent Portal. We want them to log on with their own account, not their children’s. If a parent has two children in Attleboro Public Schools, they can view all of their children in the Parent Portal. They don’t have to log in to their son’s, then log out and log in again to their daughter’s,” said Parrillo.
Aspen also makes inputting grades and keeping students up-to-date simpler for teachers.
“Personally, I don’t leave the building each day until all my grades are updated for that school day. I feel I owe it to my students to keep them apprised day-to-day of where they stand in the class in terms of grades. Then it is up to the student to check in and see where they are and what’s going on. It is all at their fingertips if they take the initiative to look,” said mathematics teacher Mr. Derek Brooks.
Aspen even has a new feature for educators that will soon be available, allowing for better communication and sharing of ideas, tests, worksheets, and so much more.
“What is upcoming for Aspen is to use it to post common curriculums by department, as well as common assessments. Right now teachers email back and forth ideas, projects, tests, etc. Starting next year, we will be able to post these items to Aspen and then everyone in the district can access them. I think it will reduce time spent searching and emailing for things and improve upper level math in our department because more will be available to us; things that we didn’t realize were out there,” said Brooks.
Although Aspen has great qualities that were previously unavailable through the old grade software AHS used, there are a few suggestions that would make it even better.
“They should make an app. Having to use the browser on my phone when I don’t have access to a computer can be annoying, especially because if I don’t have great service it’s really slow,” said AHS freshman David Jeffery.
Teachers also weighed in on Aspen.
“Aspen hasn’t given us the next logical step. If parents and students can view grades and check on missing assignments, then why do we still have traditional parent conferences? That’s my only gripe. If there was a problem, then the student can see the teacher after class or the parent can send an email. Individual conferences could be made if they were needed, but to block off three nights a year for this seems pretty pointless at this point,” said Brooks.
“Swapping over from grade books to online grading has had its share of issues, but each year, more and more advantages are offered. My students want to know what their grades are as soon as possible and I find it extremely convenient to input them on a daily basis,” said journalism teacher Ms. Adeline Bee.