Education

Update: Problems with summer school grades now resolved, district says

File photo: Los Angeles Unified's trouble-prone student data system called MiSiS is causing summer school grades to disappear, school principals say.
File photo: Los Angeles Unified's trouble-prone student data system called MiSiS is causing summer school grades to disappear, school principals say.
FREDERIC J. BROWN/AFP/Getty Images

Update 11:01 a.m.: District says summer school grades issue resolved

A district spokeswoman confirmed that Crenshaw High summer school principal Victor Gonzalez and his teachers are now able to view summer school grades. In an email, Gonzalez said he had not been informed that the issue had been resolved earlier this week. 

5:30 a.m.: Summer school grades for some students disappear

Los Angeles Unified's new student tracking system known as MiSiS has caused major problems with summer school grades in recent days, and it's the latest issue arising from the district's troublesome $133 million data system.

According to district administrators, summer school grades submitted to MiSiS seemingly disappeared from the system. The problems appear to have begun on July 1, when the student data system rolled over into a new school year. 

Word of additional MiSiS issues comes a day after KPCC reported that as many as 7,500 high school seniors may have received faulty transcripts. Some of the records show students graduated when they didn't and others indicate students failed to meet graduation requirements when they did, according to some district staffers interviewed by KPCC.

One summer school principal, Victor Gonzalez of Crenshaw High School, told KPCC Thursday that the new student tracking system is impacting summer school grades. Although teachers entered the grades into the system, some could not be retrieved, he said.

"We can’t do anything. We just have to wait for them to fix it,” Gonzalez said. “We didn’t expect the rollover to be an issue.”

Gonzalez added that, overall, the system is working far better than it did last fall. He said the district is currently working on fixing the current problem and recovering the lost grades. 

At least a few dozen students are affected at Crenshaw High School, but Gonzalez and one assistant principal said the problem covers all 86 LAUSD campuses offering summer school classes.

Superintendent Ramon Cortines issued a statement late Thursday afternoon saying the issue of teachers reporting that they could not see grades in MiSiS “was resolved earlier this week. No data was lost. Graduation will not be affected.”

But Gonzalez reported the problems persisted Thursday. District logs on repairs underway show technicians are still working on fixing over 350 problems with MiSiS, including some involving summer school grades.

Cortines said the grade-reporting process is different for summer school, “which may have created confusion.” The process could have been better communicated, “for which I take full responsibility,” he added.

With state funding buoyed by an improving economy and changes in Title I funding limits for low-income students, the district doubled the number of campuses offering summer classes over last year. 

Many students nearing graduation have been taking classes this summer — courses they'll need to get their diplomas or enter college.

An assistant principal, who is not authorized to speak and asked not to be identified, said the problems with MiSiS have been so extensive over the school year that staffers grow anxious every week when the district technicians typically fix problems — because new ones will pop up. 

"Every Wednesday, you have tiny little heart attacks,” she said.

She added she wished the funds spent on the data tracking system could be used for items students need more, like repairs to buildings and broken water fountains. 

“I'm just wondering how much more money it’s going to take to fix this,” she said of MiSiS. “I don’t know what it’s going to take.”

Tina Boivin, a teacher with the district, said she experienced grades disappearing for students in entire periods. She said she also dealt with incorrect roll calls. 

"The hours and hours spent on going backwards and constantly correcting the attendance was insane," she said, in a written comment submitted through KPCC's Public Insight Network

On Tuesday, Superintendent Ramon Cortines issued a statement to KPCC acknowledging problems with students' graduation requirements and the MiSiS system.

Cortines stated district and school employees have been working to address the issues and “the number of student records with discrepancies has been greatly reduced.” However, the district declined to provide the numbers of students impacted or to describe the scope of the problem.

Colleen Schwab, executive with UTLA, the union representing teachers and other school professionals, said counselors told her that they were being unfairly blamed for signing off on graduating seniors.

On Thursday, Cortines issued another statement saying: “No one is to blame for discrepancies in graduation requirements. Fortunately, the My Integrated Student Information System, the new student record-keeping software program, worked and flagged this issue.”

But the system also caused the recent problems, the latest in a string of issues that began shortly after MiSiS was rolled out last summer. MiSiS was then unable to correctly schedule classes for students, track grades and attendance, and issue accurate transcripts.

Since then, the district has spent millions in an ongoing effort to fix a myriad of issues that continue to afflict the system.