Michigan school software glitch raises more than 2,000 grades

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(TNS) — More than 2,000 grades at Kingsley Area High School have improved after a technical glitch was discovered in PowerSchool, the program used to calculate student grades and grade point averages.

Every current student at Kingsley High School has had every grade recalculated after school administration discovered PowerSchool was not aligned with Kingsley High School’s student handbook, Superintendent Keith Smith said.

In total, the recalculation resulted in 2,141 semester grades being changed over a 3.5-year period, said Ryan Jarvi, director of communications at North Ed.


According to MI School Data, Kingsley Area High School had 500 students in the 2021-2022 school year.

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North Ed is unaware of this issue popping up in other school districts, Jarvi added.

Kingsley first adopted PowerSchool more than 10 years ago, Smith said. At that time, the school administration programmed PowerSchool to give students grades that did not match the grading system provided in the student handbook, a problem that only arose once. that her daughter requested a note call, Smith said.

In the spring of 2021, Smith’s ex-wife appealed over one of their daughter’s grades, Smith said.

Tony Temple, the council president at the time, created a committee to respond to his call which included council members, then high school principal Mike Moran, high school counselor and high school teachers, said council chair Beth Lajko said in an email. Board administrators asked Moran if other students were affected, and he said they weren’t, Smith said.

The appeal was accepted and Smith’s daughter’s grade was changed.

“The outcome of the appeal was to align the student’s grade with the scale in the student manual,” Lajko said.

Around February 2022, Smith told Lajko, gave her two transcripts — her daughter’s and another student’s. Someone had printed off both transcripts and passed them around after noticing a difference in how their grades were calculated, Smith said.

Lajko said she could not say where she received the two transcripts as she was working with the Kingsley Federation of Teachers Union representative and a lawyer on the matter.

In the spring of 2022, Kingsley administrators assigned Smith to investigate how other students’ grades may be affected by the same technical issue. The school’s IT department launched a case and found that other students were affected, Lajko said.

Smith returned to the board at their April 11 meeting to brief them on the technical error discovered.

At that April meeting, the board voted unanimously to correct the discrepancy between the grading scale in the student manual and PowerSchool, according to board meeting notes. At their May 9 meeting, Smith worked with Northwest Education Services, the local middle school district, and the issue was resolved, according to board meeting minutes.

“Unfortunately, once the kids have graduated and the diplomas have been issued and the kids are out of school, you can’t go back once that transcript has been finalized,” Smith said. . “My heart goes out to everyone who has been negatively affected by this.”

Smith said the Kingsley school administration received very few grade calls, and most of them disputed the method of grading their work.

Some parents remain skeptical that Smith acted in bad faith and disagree with the board’s decision to change past grades.

Jason Hillier, a parent from Kingsley, questioned why a slew of grades had been changed retroactively instead of the school administration instituting the new grading system for the future. He said it looked like Smith was doing this just to cover up the fact that his daughter’s grade had been changed unfairly.

“He created this set, ‘Well, these percentages will round everybody up hoping that would make everybody happy,'” Hillier said. “Some kids are probably thrilled that they went from a B to an A minus or whatever, but… when you create a policy, you never back down, you always start forward.”

Both Lajko and Smith said changing the students’ past grades was the “right thing” to correct the error for the students.

When asked if Smith had any influence on the outcome of her daughter’s appeal, Lajko said “absolutely not.”

“He was present with his ex-wife to present their appeal to the committee,” Lajko said. “He was not present for the discussion or the decision.”

Smith insisted he didn’t unfairly change his daughter’s grade.

“It’s unfortunate that it’s my daughter, but that doesn’t mean you ignore the situation that affects all the other children,” Smith said. “The right thing is the right thing. And when it comes to your attention, you have to do the right thing.”

Steve Morgan, a parent of Kingsley, said Smith leading the PowerSchool investigation was a conflict of interest because of the role his daughter’s note appeal played in the case. He said he wishes the council had hired an outside entity to conduct the investigation instead.

“Dr. Smith was not involved in any decision or discussion with his daughter’s note,” Lajko said when asked if she thought it was a potential conflict of interest. “He was instructed to investigate to ensure that no other student’s grades were affected as committee direction for further follow-up was not made.”

Board administrators also failed to properly address the seriousness of the situation, given that the incorrect grading system may have negatively impacted thousands of former high school students, Morgan said.

“If the grading system was off for 15 or 20 years, how many kids did it cost scholarships and college advancements?” Morgana asked.

“It’s just kind of a mess,” he said.

©2022 The Record-Eagle (Traverse City, Michigan. Distributed by Tribune Content Agency, LLC.

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