With the innovation involved in sharing a mastery-based grading system with the various audiences for progress reports, it's best when logistical challenges don't get in the way of a positive experience for all involved. That includes school staff, as there are many other important things to attend to around progress report time. This post (and thread) are designed to begin collecting best practices on how to best print, distribute, and communicate mastery. As I've been through this process with JumpRope >10 times, I'll get things going... but I'd love to see others weigh in!
- Plan grade due-dates and print-dates ahead of time. When using a system that allows teachers to grade at any time (as in, involves more than just final grades), it is crucial that deadlines be communicated clearly. JumpRope's Admin Console allows you to specify term and marking period dates (look in the Startup Wizard) which can help clarify dates for teachers, but make sure that they are communicated to staff early and often.
- Plan for a day or two flex time between the day that grades are due and the day that reports are distributed. This can be a hard message for teachers who are always looking to include the latest data, but it makes a HUGE difference in the smoothness of the process. It allows for last-minute troubleshooting to take place if there are any real issues, and gives the printing team time to make sure that the thousands of pages are properly printed and organized.
- Let teachers and grade-team leaders spot-check progress reports before distribution. A common issue is that one or two teachers set dates on assessments improperly for the current marking period. This is difficult to catch without letting a teacher or team leader who is familiar with the curriculum take a look at a sample progress report from the grade level. In this way, last-minute emergencies ("My unit 4 grades didn't print!") can be avoided.
- DUPLEX! JumpRope supports report generation for duplex printers (it will insert blank pages as necessary between student reports to make sure that they come out in separate, staple-able format). Most schools have a modern-ish copy-machine that can print PDF files directly from a computer, a flash-drive, or over the network. It is totally worth it to research, download, and install print drivers for this copy machine on a laptop. Printing is much faster and it saves TONS of paper...
- Count them before distributing. Despite my best efforts, I've almost always forgotten a few (missed one file) or not realized it when a printer jam or paper outage caused me a miss to couple of reports. Counting at the end, and organizing them into folders by crew/advisory, can save some grief later on.
- Train others on how to re-print progress reports. Inevitably, some reports will need to be re-printed. Perhaps a mistake was made when grading that needs to be corrected on the spot for a parent, a second copy is needed during parent conferences, or low toner made one hard to read. If you're the only one who knows how to print the reports, you WILL go crazy... I promise! Either pick a couple of trusted souls to be the "go-tos" when a re-print is needed or, as I have done in the past, distribute a one-pager with printing instructions to all teachers. Make sure to include the exact date range and grouping details when distributing instructions, or it is possible that the *DREADED* "different averages" issue will occur (teachers, students, and parents FREAK OUT when they don't think that they can trust their grades, and a simple incorrect date when printing can make grades appear un-reliable). This has the added benefit of investing other teachers in the process of printing, and may encourage them to give students feedback more regularly.
- Encourage use of the Student & Parent Portal. Not only can this serve as "backup" when a re-print isn't available, but it can help students and parents better understand the living quality of mastery-based grades. Ultimately, this can decrease the pressure for perfection on those few print dates that cause all of the stress.
- Lock yourself in a room while printing. I literally tell the staff that the copy room is completely unavailable for three hours on Tuesday afternoon, and I lock myself in the room until I'm sure that I'm done. Remember: as annoying as the process is, you're an important part of improving the quality of feedback that students get on their progress!
If you have any other ideas to add, I'd love to hear about them in the comments below!