Pass / Fail

So Cal education, LAUSD, the Cal States and the UCs

With new technology struggling, LA school teachers taking manual attendance

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62707 full

An art teacher assigned more than 70 students in a single period. Kindergarteners listed on high school roll sheets. Students roaming the halls without assigned classes.

These are just some of the problems teachers reported Friday, as Los Angeles Unified's new grading and attendance recording system — known as MiSiS — continued to cause challenges during the first week of school. Teachers were told not to use the system until problems were resolved. 

RELATED: Computer glitches make back-to-school a hassle at some LA campuses

Sun Valley Middle School visual art teacher Bradley Greer said the problems were preventing teachers from getting the school year underway. 

"Taking roll in a class of 70 takes almost the entire period," he said. He knows things will ultimately get resolved but said "it's frustrating to start the year this way."   

Lydia Ramos, the school district's new director of communications, said officials anticipated there would be challenges after the new system was rolled out during summer school. 

"We knew it," she said. "We told principals almost two weeks beforehand.

"Beta testing in a system with 1,000 schools, it is a challenge," she added. 

Thursday night the district sent an email to teachers instructing them to take attendance by hand.

The MiSiS team has been actively working to find the root cause of the performance issues that occurred today.  Users reported slow system response time, error messages, and not being able to log in.  At this time, the issue is still being worked on.  To avoid any more disruption during class time, all teachers should take attendance on paper for Friday, August 15.  When access is restored, teachers will be able to put attendance in for all days since the beginning of the school year.  A step by step guide will be provided.

Students can still be enrolled and scheduled into classes tomorrow by those who have the office manager and/or scheduling administrator roles.

Ramos said it will take a few weeks before the major issues are ironed out. Taking attendance by hand shouldn't be slowing teachers down, she said — they have been instructed to "remain focused on instruction."

In a statement, officials said fewer than 1 percent of the L.A. Unified's 650,000 students have been affected by scheduling issues under the new system. 

The new system comes after district administrators bailed on a previous technology system they spent $38.3 million to develop. In 2012, the district's chief information officer Ron Chandler met with district staffers to brainstorm a new design, which was finally launched this summer after Chandler requested an additional $13 million from the school board. 

At Sylmar High School, science teacher Ron Hitchcock's attendance list included a fourth grader, two second graders and a kindergartener. 

"It's sort of funny," said Hitchcock. But he's also worried no one will know if the younger students are missing. If students are listed on a high school attendance list, he said, elementary teachers won't have a record of them. 

"It's going to be very difficult for the teacher who's supposed to have them to do attendance, because they don't appear on the roll," he said. 

Hitchcock said other science teachers had similar problems, and the department also dealt with students without class schedules wandering in during the middle of periods. He said administrators and counselors at the school were scrambling to get the problems resolved for students. 

Greer said he had two art classes with more than 70 students, which left students "on the counters, standing in the back, squished together." 

It's not uncommon for classes to adjust the first week of school, but Greer said to a much lesser degree than this week's issues. He wished the district had sorted out these "unnecessary" problems before the school year started. 

"It's very difficult for the kids," Greer said.



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