NYC Parents Tear DOE Over Flawed New Grading and Attendance System

Exasperated parents are tearing up New York City’s flawed new public school system that prevents them from easily accessing their children’s grades or easily contacting teachers.

The Department of Education has rolled out its own free grades, attendance and messaging apps, to replace banned third-party software that was implicated in a data breach of more than 800,000 students last year.

But families and teachers say the new system freezes or doesn’t display data, and its features are slow to roll out, leaving many people unsure how their children are doing in school.

“We have a lot of problems, parents have a lot of problems, schools have a lot of problems,” said Shirley Aubin, co-chair of the Chancellor’s Parent Advisory Council (CPAC), where families lambasted the new platform on Thursday. . during a meeting with DOE Chancellor David Banks.

“The parent interface isn’t there — and to put it more bluntly, it should have been ready before the first day of school,” Aubin said.

More than 500 schools have pledged to use the DOE’s system this school year, officials said last week — many to replace pirated products from software company Illuminate Education, including Skedula and Pupil Path.

The department announced the rollout of its software last May, indicating at the time in a press release that the applications would be available before the first day of the school year.

Families and teachers say the new system freezes or doesn’t display data.
AP/Brittany Newman

Banks conceded to the parent council on Thursday that he had heard about problems with the new apps before.

“The system that we had before, the system itself worked pretty well, but the company that was responsible for it was in a position where people’s personal information was being co-opted,” Banks told the furious parents at the meeting. CPAC.

“So we had to break ranks with them. We would have liked to have had more time, more preparations to make everything go well — but sometimes you find yourself in a situation where you have to make a change.

“And there is nothing we can do about it. We just have to figure it out as we go.

But David Irons, a parent of five foster and adopted teenagers on Staten Island, said he couldn’t check whether his children were regularly attending classes or passing classes.

“The DOE has a $38 billion budget, and they can’t do this simple job,” said Irons, also a high school English and special education teacher in the same borough.

“The new system is quite ambitious. None of this is ready to go.

Irons told the Post that older platforms had a messaging feature that connected teachers and parents.

Many schools are replacing pirated products from software company Illuminate Education.
REUTERS/Jeenah Moon

Now, if the families involved wish to contact a teacher, they must rely on the school or hope that an online staff directory is updated. And if teachers want to reach out to families and let them know how their students are doing at school, they have to look up their contact details and hope they’re up to date — or find other messaging platforms.

“I feel like we don’t have any connection with the parents now,” Irons said.

While hundreds of schools are using the apps, other principals have opted for more expensive third-party technology instead of the city’s free system, even as three-quarters of schools face budget cuts this fall.

Arthur Goldstein, an ESL teacher at Francis Lewis High School in Queens, said his school purchased third-party technology last week, more than a month into the school year.

Goldstein told the Post he didn’t give tests until last week because of unusable grading software, and found many of his students failed.

“It’s my fault,” Goldstein said. “But it’s also the fault of this system which forces me to approach my work differently, because I expect something that works.”

Parents find it difficult to access their children’s grades.
Bloomberg via Getty Images

After that, he asked his administrators for his students’ contact details and got a wonky spreadsheet with working phone numbers – while others didn’t work and some were missing. He said he “absolutely” would have made those calls sooner if he had a better way to call home.

“My classes are going much better since I made 20 or 30 phone calls.”

A parent at Susan Wagner’s high school in Staten Island told the Post that she was unable to access her son’s grades or attendance, who had a pre-pandemic average of 90. Now his grades have slowly dropped to 70 and 80 in recent school years.

Class time has also been wasted for teachers sitting with students to manually show them their grades, a teacher at the school added.

“I’m afraid I missed something,” said the parent, “if I missed an alert, I should have been able to see – to follow my son and his work. I’m afraid he’s missing something.

The mum said she had tried talking with her son, but wanted to get a better understanding of his progress to help guide him.

“He tells me he gets the job done, but I’m really not sure because he never works from home,” she added. “I hope I’ll join him – but I really don’t know.”

The DOE did not respond to numerous requests for comment.

Additional reporting by Susan Edelman

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