Under the hood with Edsby report cards

It’s the end of the first quarter of the 2014-2015 academic year at some schools. And the end of the quarter means report cards!

Hillsborough County Public Schools in Tampa, Florida—the eighth largest school district in the U.S.—uses Edsby to capture and report on student grades. Edsby makes individual assessment scores and overall academic progress available to parents and students during the academic quarter if individual teachers choose to do so.

At the same time, Edsby is also relied on to generate report cards for Hillsborough.

Keeping track of and reporting on academic progress in this district is a huge task; there are approximately 200,000 students, 18,000 teachers and tens of thousands of parents making heavy use of Edsby in Hillsborough alone.

Let’s take a look at how report cards work in Edsby, and how the process works at Hillsborough in particular.

How Edsby produces report cards
The concept behind report cards in Edsby is simple: Edsby issues teachers a set of electronic report card “sheets,” one per class, with areas for entering the required information pertaining to each student in each class. If teachers enter student grades throughout the quarter, generating report cards can be easy. Edsby even calculates the average, although the teacher is able to use their professional judgment to override the calculated average.

reportcard1

At report card time, Edsby presents teachers with calculated final grades for each student in every class. They can override if they choose, plus add their comments, before submitting to the office, which then generates printed report cards. Fictional names and data above.

For most schools and districts, after teachers enter their report card comments and submit their report card sheets electronically to the office through Edsby, report cards can be printed by schools directly from Edsby on special templates that match the district’s reporting standards. In Hillsborough, elementary schools do exactly this, saving vast amounts of time, effort and expense.

In other schools and districts, the raw report card data is exported to another district application for collation and printing, and this is the method Hillsborough uses for middle and high schools. After teachers use Edsby to submit report card comments and final grades, Edsby sends this data to the district’s existing report card printing system, which physically prints report cards for middle and high school students in the county.

At each stage of the process, Edsby allows districts to monitor report card progress and see where their thousands of teachers are at what point in the workflow.

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Edsby report card progress monitor. Fictional names and data above.

Hillsborough County by the numbers
This past quarter, teachers in Hillsborough County submitted over 5 million grades to the Edsby grade book for this report card cycle, with some 830,000 grades submitted on the busiest day. About 250,000 of those grades were submitted on the last day teachers could enter grades, illustrating a popular lament of Hillsborough students—that some teachers only use Edsby as a simple report card reporting system and only enter grades at the end of the quarter instead of throughout the quarter.

After all the gradebook data was in, Edsby generated 91,209 electronic report card sheets for teachers to fill out. Each sheet sought comments on individual students’ performance and a final first quarter grade in each class for each student.

In the case of middle and high schools, Edsby then sent 732,104 final grades and comments to the district’s report card printing system, which ultimately printed out 102,483 student report cards last week.

Assistant Principals in Hillsborough elementary schools used Edsby to directly print 95,179 report cards in English and Spanish in their own offices, bypassing the export to the legacy report card printing system.

High performance
Edsby performance has been much improved from last year’s report card cycles at Hillsborough, when server response was impacted by the withering load of 18,000 teachers submitting grades and comments in the last days of each report card cycle.

Today, Edsby sees relatively little performance impact in report card season, averaging about one-tenth of a second response times across all requests, and below two-tenths of a second even at peak loads of well over 500 requests per second from Hillsborough users alone. That’s fast!

Hillsborough is also happy that Edsby now gives it a way to easily access and report grades from students that transfer schools within the district. It was unable to do so with its last electronic grade book system.

For more information on how Hillsborough County uses Edsby, read this profile.