Gradebook study elicits varying responses

Andreea Sabau, Staff Writer

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After a difficult test, junior Rachel Bernstein pulled out her phone and instinctively tapped the PowerSchool icon to appease her worries. An empty grid, devoid of grade percentages and letters, popped up. Frustrated, she shut off her phone and was unable to get the test off her mind for the remainder of the school day. According to Bernstein, limited PowerSchool access does not solve the “real problem” of the stress grades elicit.

“I feel like [closing PowerSchool] is more like a Band-Aid for the problem,” said Bernstein. “We’re all still stressed about grades, and now we’re stressed because we can’t see our grades.”

A study by Glenbrook High School District #225 examining the impact of gradebook access during the school day on student wellness was conducted from April 4 to April 28. On school days, gradebook access and grade notifications were restricted district-wide from 7:30 a.m. to 3:30 p.m..

Ryan Bretag, director of instructional innovation, said several meetings with faculty and students confirmed that the study should be conducted. Students unanimously agreed that a study should be done to determine the impact of gradebook access on students.

Mary Rockrohr, instructional supervisor of science, said she believes conducting the study was a positive step toward lowering student stress.

“It’s the first step in educating kids that you don’t need to look at your grades a bunch of times during the day,” Rockrohr said.

To obtain student feedback on the study, two student focus groups were held at Glenbrook North, the first taking place during the study on April 18 and the second occurring after the study on May 18. All students who indicated interest in the focus groups on the pre-study survey issued on March 16 were invited to attend.

According to sophomore Amadeusz Rydzy, at the first focus group, students wrote about and discussed their thoughts on restricted gradebook access.

Freshman Charlie Weissman, who also attended the student focus groups, said he agreed with the decision to shut down PowerSchool during the school day because it reduced “distractions and competition between friends.”

Bretag said he recognizes there is not one solution to the issue of student stress.

“We’re not looking for perfection, we’re looking for progress,” said Bretag. “This study is progress toward looking at student wellness.”

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