If students do part of their learning online, how can we be sure they are there (in the virtual classroom or engaged in assignments) to learn?

If students are “present” at the beginning of a class, how can we be sure they are there at the end?

If teachers have to enter student data to several systems and are not trained in the new systems they need for virtual learning, how can we be sure they will be able to encounter each student, to provide the critical encouragement and insight needed for social-emotional health as well as learning?

The crisis is real, serious, and it continues. Our keiki’s welfare is at stake just as the careers of our teachers and the welfare of our businesses and general society. But if children fail to get the attention and guidance and warmth they need now and over a 6-12 month period, some will not recover.

We know that our Hawai‘i Department of Education, including district and complex area staff, as well as our heroic teachers, have worked hard to handle the unforeseen crises during this pandemic. Big changes have been required and no doubt folks are working around the clock. However, student engagement has been very very low. Not only are our keiki in danger of losing academic progress, sometimes with very serious negative effects, but many students are not getting sufficient contact with teachers, staff, or other students. Until now, unless a school was an online school, attendance records have largely been kept by teachers and reported to the school and district SIS (Student Information System).

During the spring pandemic learning period, enrichment only activities were provided online or through paper packets. Student engagement was low and modes of delivery and amounts of communication between teachers and students and teachers and families varied greatly. Parents were concerned that since students knew these activities were “just enrichment” many were not motivated to participate. Not all students had access to Internet connectivity, devices, or to a device appropriate to their grade level or instructional needs. These conclusions were provided via our Parents for Public Schools of Hawai‘i pandemic engagement survey and were supported by the HI DOE’s Panorama Surveys of Teachers and Students. (The Family Survey has not been released by today’s date, though we have heard that principals have the results to take into consideration in their determination of school model.)

The HI DOE is offering three models of instruction for local schools to choose, two of the three will include online learning. Here are some of the questions that occur to us:

How will students be engaged in their online learning?
How will student engagement be “seen” by teachers in time to make a difference?
What tools will teachers have to boost engagement?
How can teachers quickly and easily “see” the level and extent of student engagement?
What part does “attendance” play in education engagement?

How can we be sure that each student is “seen” and knows they have been “seen” by teachers or staff each day?

The Hawai‘i DOE uses the Infinite Campus SIS (Student Information System). Infinite Campus has developed COVID-19 services including attendance work-arounds. Will the HI DOE mandate the usage of assignment-based attendance added to standard Infinite Campus attendance?
Infinite Campus COVID-19 Workflow here (steps to use assignments to track attendance)
Infinite Campus COVID-19 Guide here (includes video on Assignment-based Attendance)
Infinite Campus COVID-19 Resources
Infinite Campus Video on How to Develop New Attendance Codes, How to Allow this Alongside the Standard District Attendance System. These codes must be determined at the DISTRICT LEVEL to work.

Is HIDOE amending Infinite Campus SIS usage and providing training to take advantage of IC new automated assignment-based attendance?

Is HIDOE looking into other biometric and assignment driven attendance systems?

LMS (Learning Management Systems) and SISs have advanced since HIDOE chose Infinite Campus.

Recently the district has offered Blackboard Learn LMS to schools at their discretion– since Blackboard was the most commonly used full LMS. I understand the district knows that Blackboard is not an LMS of choice for K12 schools, designed as it was, for higher ed. It has been used effectively for teacher professional development in Hawai‘i and elsewhere. But it is not well designed for K12 student engagement. I understand this is a temporary measure.

The district has set up gmail accounts for all teachers and students and this is a good move as it enables much. And Google Classroom can now be used by all teachers. But Google Classroom is not a full LMS.

Families have found it difficult to find information, to understand how their students are progressing. The portal aspect of Infinite Campus does not appear to be working well. HIDOE has set up several websites, held Facebook video chats, posted Vimeo video updates. But the communications is disjointed and complicated.

The use of Panorama to survey teachers and students was wise given the difficulty the district has had in getting feedback. The response rate was very high for teachers, not high for students. Further the district did not begin the family survey in time to publicize the results enabling school community members to take that into account in choosing fall school models. Principals have the results, but families do not. The Family survey should have been given more priority and been administered earlier given the district’s timeline for fall determinations.

A new integrated system of LMS/SIS/SPED/Assessment management systems should be designed and implemented. Hawai‘i is in a favorable position, the only state that is one district, and could create and deliver the infrastructure all schools, teachers, students, and families need to be in easy to access, continuous, student achievement-informed communication. I was encouraged to hear from Interim Asst. Superintendent Alisa Bender, that a team is working on this.

Could you please tell us the intent and the status of a full evaluation, design, implementation of an up-to-date integrated LMS/SIS/SPED/Assessment instructional and student management system?

We need this critically to support engaged learning, family, student, teacher communication, and district analysis and continuous improvement. We can lead the nation if we persist and do this right.

SIS PowerSchool Attendance Handbook
SIS Fedena Online and Biometric Attendance Systems
Pandemic Planning for Distance Learning PreK-12 — from New America