Skyward – RB’s new grading program

A new piece of technology has slipped into the building, perhaps overshadowed by the new classrooms, fresh hallways, and clean bathrooms. However, students and teachers of RB will soon find, if they haven’t already, that Skyward is imperative to their daily academic lives.

Skyward, replacement for RB’s previous grading and records software, not only tracks and tabulates grades for teachers, but also runs attendance, sends messages, has a full personalized activity calendar, and much more. It was introduced to RB through a software bid program, where many companies vied for the school’s business.

According to that website, Skyward is a “vendor of K-12 administrative software.” The site also states Skyward can help manage and store information relating to a school’s student management, human resources, financial management, and food service. Over 1,300 school districts worldwide use this software. Besides 17 states in the US, Skyward is used in parts of Venezuela, Greece, Saudi Arabia, Lebanon, and India.

Teachers are now able to mark students present or absent through Skyward, and the information is broadcast through the students’ schedules to their other teachers throughout the day. They can also use the grade book program to post scores of tests, quizzes, and homework. They can also list assignments for students to check and complete. Skyward tabulates total points for the teachers and notifies parents when anything changes.

Teacher Mark Gouwens, the Social studies department Skyward leader, commented about the new program. “Edline was attached to our old program, SASI, which went away; and we were forced to update the school software,” said Gouwens. “Skyward is overall easier to use. It is pretty intuitive as far as being user friendly. It’s good for parents and teachers; the days of hiding bad grades are rapidly coming to an end.” Gouwens also said, “Grading is now in ‘real time’, meaning there is no lag [when grades are entered.] Eventually, we may make attendance real time also.”

On the student side, Skyward allows RB attendees to see how they are doing in their classes, log missing assignments, and receive messages from their teachers. This can be very helpful if students miss a day of school, or forget to write down their homework in their assignment notebook.

Junior Claire Schraidt said, “It’s just like a list of grades you can see right away, so if you’re getting a weird grade you can click on it.” She also said that the increased parent notification doesn’t scare her. “They know I’m going to be motivated enough to do my homework,” she added.

Another Junior, Nate Reyes, said that he found Skyward “Kind of confusing, especially since the teacher we were signing up with didn’t know how to use it either.” Reyes said his mom is pretty strict about grades, “especially the ones she had to pay lots of money for, like AP classes.” Reyes also said that he thought “Edline was more precise, less cluttered.”

In Reyes’s case, Skyward can be a burden, especially since all missing assignments show up right away, rather than giving him and other students a long time window to get everything in, usually before the end of the marking period.

Sophomore Danny Kelliher also commented, saying, “Skyward’s main advantage is said to be that it is updated instantly after the grade is entered into the teacher’s grade book. But a few of my teachers only update their grades once a week. So it defies the whole point. For Skyward to be used to its full potential, every teacher would have to update grades immediately after the assignment is graded which is not always possible.”