Thursday, February 25, 2010

NCWISE Frequently asked questions or "quirks"

Below are some frequently asked questions about NCWISE.  Also,  you might first want to look through the manual from NCWISE for the Teacher assistant Module.

First of all,  this document is a quick reference guide put out from the people at NCWISE, and covers many common questions and issues.
(I recommend that you use a password you commonly use such as your e-mail password and then add four numbers on to the end, such as the month and year that the current quarter starts...e.g. pluto0210--that way you always know what month and date the quarter started and hopefully you always will remember your regularly used password.  (Here are directions for changing your password)

E-mailing an individual student's progress report

In terms of gradebook set-up at the start of the Year, I often get the question of which format is better for setting up your gradebook:
In terms of setting up your grading method or Preps. I will go on record that I tend to favor the Total Points    set up over percentages for the following reasons:
1)  In the past our district NCWISE coordinator  recommended the   Total points  method of grade calculation over percentages because of several known "issues" with NCWISE in calculating grades when percentage setup is done. 
2) If you use percentages and don't use one of the categories (such as a project worth 25%) it dramatically "skews" the students grade at that point in the quarter--such as at progress report time.
3) The grade calculation using Total points is vastly easier to explain to parents:  The Student's grade equals the total points earned divided by the total points possible .  Calculating the grade when the percentage method is used requires one to sit down with pen and paper or spreadsheet (and if one of the categories is not used--it's  difficult to explain or justify the grade)
4)  With total points , all assignments can be worth 100 points, but you can weight individual assessments more than one time. For example, a particular test can be weighted 4 times or worth a total of 400 points to give it more "weight". (you must notify parents that you are doing this)  This way you have more control as to the overall "weight" of assignments, and can essentially lower the weight at your discretion depending on student performance. 

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