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Powerschool A Power System?

Ella Howard | ehoward19@dtechhs.org | June 12, 2018
Photo by Ella Howard

Since d.tech’s humble beginnings, students and teachers have seen their fair share of Learning Management Systems, the most recent one being Powerschool. Although the general consensus of the community seem to have a lot of negative things to say about PowerSchool’s performance, it has both positives and negatives, and we as a community are slowly adapting and learning to function with our new LMS.

Some students, such as junior Sophie Dvorkin, have an even more negative outlook on the performance of PowerSchool compared to past systems. When asked if PowerSchool is the best program we have used, “Oh, god no. PowerSchool is awful” was her first reaction. As a junior, she was here during the Buzz era, after being asked how Buzz and PowerSchool compare to each other, she said, “I liked Buzz a lot more, it was a lot simpler and streamlined, in the sense that you knew where you were navigating to, and how to get back easily,” but as for PowerSchool she said it was much more complicated to use and didn’t function any better.

There are small aspects of PowerSchool that she does enjoy. When asked about its best feature, she responded, “The ‘Pages’ feature, if well utilized.” She went on to describe how it is very nice to have different categories and units of courses organized into sections. “Wilgus is a really good example, he starts a new page for every unit, where you can have all of your resources, and it just helps you organize your thoughts and assignments, without you having to do it yourself,” she said.

Junior English teacher, Lessley Anderson, doesn’t have too many issues with PowerSchool, except in regards to submissions. She said, “Powerschool doesn’t tell you or show you when a student turns in work the way that Buzz did. You get a generic email that says ‘You have new stuff on Powerschool’ but it’s super unhelpful because how are you supposed to know what and who turned it in?” She explained that Buzz explicitly showed her who submitted what assignment, and she didn’t have to search for it. Even with this setback, Ms. Anderson identified one feature she loves that Buzz didn’t have: “You can hit a button on a specific assignment, and it takes you to a Google drive folder with all the docs in it students have turned in with the permissions automatically open!!” With Buzz, Ms. Anderson said she spent upwards of 20 minutes a day harassing students for viewing permission.

Emmy Joseph, Education Specialist, says she is very motivated to keep working with PowerSchool until it works for our school, because she understands how much effort has been put into making PowerSchool the best it can be. “There was a lot of work put in [to PowerSchool], and a lot of learning for the staff and faculty to figure it out, but at the same time it’s not the best system and it’s very frustrating,” she said. Joseph is reluctant to say she would prefer a new system, because of the efforts made by the staff to adapt to PowerSchool, but she agrees that we still have a way to come before PowerSchool is our ideal grading system. “It’s now May and it still continues to be very frustrating. Because students don’t necessarily know where they stand with their grades, and that’s a must have.”

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