Pitfalls of automated recording of students’ marks

It is all systems go as schools prepare to close their doors this week. Students and teachers will breath with a sigh of relieve as the longest term of the year adamantly drags itself to the end. The second term appears to be the longest term in the schools’ academic calendar. As one academician noted, those who lose it lose the year. First term 2011 had 60 school days; second term had 70 school days while third term will have 45 school days.
Nyamosi Zachariah
Nyamosi Zachariah

It is all systems go as schools prepare to close their doors this week. Students and teachers will breath with a sigh of relieve as the longest term of the year adamantly drags itself to the end.

The second term appears to be the longest term in the schools’ academic calendar. As one academician noted, those who lose it lose the year. First term 2011 had 60 school days; second term had 70 school days while third term will have 45 school days.

Why am I taking pain to enumerate all this? The bottom line of my argument is that too maydays of your child in school demand an elaborate report on how he/she fared. Almost four months away from you is not a short time.

So, do you only need to see numbers in form of marks with hollow comments like good, very good, fair etc?

For the last two weeks, teachers have been entangled in administering examinations, marking and preparing academic reports.

It is true that preparation of end of term reports for students is a very daunting task especially if they are not automatically generated by the current software for report cards generation.

While it makes it easier for the schools to prepare report cards, it has emerged that most of the programs for automated report cards generation are not as informative as they should be.

Most software used allows the individual subject teachers to enter marks from their personal computers in the local area network. The marks can then be accessed from a centralized computer which automatically generates report cards made up of a list of subjects and marks accompanied by monotonous short comments. Clichés like ‘pull up’, ‘work hard’ and ‘can do better’ can also be conspicuously observed.

A very good student’s average of 90 may not mean a good student as the flamboyant grades suggest. On the same vein, a student with an average of 30 or 20 may not be very poor or bad so to speak. He or she may be excellent in sports, music or art.

Our evaluation of students’ achievements should not overlook the hidden talent.

While I support the automated systems of generating the school reports, as ICT age education practitioner, I disagree with their limitation some of them have in portraying the whole picture of a student.

Some of these systems have crippled the teachers’ roles in reporting students’ achievements. Comprehensive analyses of students’ achievements not only in the classrooms but also in the extracurricular activities are needed.

Discipline, the bedrock of academic and life in general success should also be reported.

Let the parents and guardians get balanced reports of their children not just figures corresponding to vague comments.

With the current crop of students having a very poor reading culture and a very high affinity to action movies, it is very important that parents and guardians too play their roles in molding children. Those with home based tutors should endeavor to check what the students do and whether it impinges on their academic success.

znyamosi@yahoo.com