Teachers Pilot New Haiku Online Gradebook

By Avi Cahn

This semester a group of teachers have begun using Haiku, a website created to input grades on a four-point scale. The website, offered by the district for teachers to pilot, is a way to implement the “standards based grading” system put in place to support the Common Core curriculum, which divides teaching into individual program goals. Teachers can categorize assignments into these program goals on Haiku.

“It’s a really nice all-in-one system where the students see everything they need and have a record of it,” science teacher Grace Pender said. “[Students also] have their grades broken down in a way that makes sense to them, or makes it a little easier to see what you need to study.” Students can see their current score for each program goal on a bar graph or in columns.

Haiku shows the score on one assignment from each program goal and then averages all of the assignments from all program goals into a total percent or letter grade.

Currently the district office has set up Haiku so that the highest score inputted for each program goal is used to calculate a student’s overall grade for the class.

Pender sees this as a problem. For example, a student who receives a four on in-class assignments, but scores a two on a test or quiz has a four in a subject they may have not mastered completely, and ends up receiving an inaccurate grade that doesn’t express understanding. “It’d be nice if I could have a little more freedom as to how I choose,” Pender said. To prevent assignments with little weight affecting grades, Pender has given students their grades on paper for small assignments, then inputted only the grades that measure skill mastery.

According to history teacher Jennifer Dolan, the district administration will have teachers vote on which grade they would like to count and change it accordingly.

“The teachers using the program will decide how to set up the gradebook,” Senior Director of Instructional Technology Tara Taupier said. Dolan believes teachers will decide that the final grade inputted should count because it is likely to be a unit test or final exam.

Although some teachers have adopted the program, for some it has proved difficult to navigate. Despite Haiku’s website claiming that they “focus on harmony, simplicity, and community in our product and in our lives,” the change has not only been difficult for teachers, but for the students logging in and creating accounts.

“I like having all the teachers on Home Access, so I can just look and see all of my grades, so [now] I’ll have to go to two different websites and it complicates things and it doesn’t have to be complicated,” sophomore Franny Kiles said. Few teachers currently use Haiku, so students are rarely able to see their grades from all classes at once.

“I don’t know if it matters that all the teachers use Haiku necessarily… it’s new to all of us and we’re learning as we go,” Pender said. “So far what I’ve been able to do with it has been really helpful for me.”