home Tech @ d.tech Update on the CBL grade converter

Update on the CBL grade converter

| Corwin Davidson | cdavidson20@dtechhs.org | October 21, 2019 |

Competency-based learning. Depending on who you talk to, the utterance of this name could bring a nod or a torrent of swearing. In the words of junior Sam Mendelson, the originator of a student grade converter, “student attitudes are…very negative, excuse me, overwhelmingly negative.” Perhaps the largest complaint is upon the subject of grades, namely that it’s not comparatively difficult to discover what they are. Various solutions have arisen to deal with this, namely complaining. However, certain students have gone above and beyond, making grade converters.  A grade converter is pretty simple as a concept: it takes the grades from your outcomes, applies the requisite math with the weightings, and generates your grade in that class. At the moment, d.tech has two student-run grade converters. One, Power+, made by sophomore Jackson Loeffler, remains extant. The other, made by junior Sam Mendelson, has been taken down. An “official” admin-run grade converter is also said to be in the works.

Junior Sam Mendelson working on the CBL converter. Photo by Kasvi Singh

The saga began some time ago, when two students, Sam Mendelson and Jackson Loeffler, were given developer tokens independently of each other, which, according to Student Information Coordinator Matthew Cooley. “allow[ed] them to ask students for permission to access their Canvas data.”  Mendelson created a grade conversion website, then found at https://canvascbl.com, and Loeffler created a Chrome extension, Power+. Over the course of the week, both spread slowly around the school. 

However, a problem arose when according to Cooley,  “we realized that students were giving those permissions without realizing who they were giving them to, in this case, a fellow student,”. As put by Mendelson, “apparently a bunch of freshmen thought I worked for Canvas.” After a few days, the website was blocked on all the school Chromebooks, prompting Executive Director Ken Montgomery to cite privacy concerns at a community meeting for juniors and seniors. Mendelson says that he could not, in fact, see what people’s grades were, but also that the administration “wanted to be sure that I wouldn’t be able to.”

Loeffler’s extension, Power+, remains unblocked on the school Chromebooks. For the inquiring d.tech student, the link to put it on your computer is https://powerplus.app. From there, go to your Canvas dashboard, where “Power+” will now be found at the bottom of the bar on the right. Dr. Montgomery warns the student body that rounding errors can happen, and that “that add-on is not their final grade.” 

So, what’s the situation at the moment if you want to know your grades? According to Mr. Cooley, the one nominally in charge of this all, “We are currently conducting […] research and have been in communication with the student developers.” Per Mendelson, Cooley is also working on his own grade converter, but Mendelson’s own website should be back up by “some point in intersession.” To tide the student body over until then, weekly progress reports are also now being sent out in each student’s email, containing their respective grades.

2 thoughts on “Update on the CBL grade converter

  1. This may be a tangent, but wouldn’t it be easier for students to have a resource for unblocked chrome extensions? It may help out everyone in the long run, assuming they usually use it for productivity.

  2. The administration knew students wouldn’t be able to see their grades, yet chose not to act on it. Instead, they made an impromptu solution for a problem they knew would manifest into student frustration and outrage…

    Think ahead next time, seriously.

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