Rest in peace, PowerSchool.
Before the start of the 2021-2022 school year, Maclay students eagerly checked their grades, GPA and service hours on the PowerSchool website. Throughout the years, the user-friendly, seamless features of PowerSchool became second nature to the Maclay community. However, the decision made by the Maclay administration to switch from PowerSchool to a new program called FACTS at the beginning of this school year uprooted a routine website that teachers and students had become accustomed to using.
When the first grades were entered into the FACTS portal after policy sheet week, returning and new students alike were confused to see the changes made to the infamous maclay.org/grades website. Passwords were changed, and existing service hours were lost during the switch. Chaos filled the upper school as students asked each other, “How do I submit service hours? Where did all of my hours go? Why do I have a 16 in my class, and not a 90 percent?” This upheaval in the upper school students also seeped into the chatter of parents who lacked the tech-savvy qualities of their children. Ultimately, the school could have prevented academic uproar if the PowerSchool system was renewed into the 2021-2022 year. FACTS will never be able to compete with the dependability that PowerSchool had.
Among the most confused about the switch to FACTS were Maclay parents, who regularly used PowerSchool.
“We have been at Maclay for many years now and have always used PowerSchool,” parent Hein Guyer said. “Change without preparation scares me. I was uncertain what FACTS capabilities were besides financial.”
As she balanced the schedules and scholastic standings of her three children who attend Maclay, Guyer found PowerSchool’s user-friendly qualities helpful.
“In PowerSchool, you didn’t have to convert the 18 point scale to traditional grades,” Guyer said. “The tabs layout for specific areas of interest were easy to locate. All pertinent information for an individual student was displayed on the same screen, which makes it less difficult to navigate.”
Although Guyer is cautiously optimistic about future implications for FACTS, she and many other Maclay parents find themselves adjusting to yet another new method and procedure amid the Coronavirus pandemic.
After having their patience tested in accommodating and teaching both in-person and CVC students, FACTS also served as a new challenge for teachers to adjust to. When the Maclay administration announced to faculty that PowerSchool was being replaced, teachers received individual FACTS training towards the end of last school year and department training at the beginning of this school year.
“Like with any new system, it will take some getting used to,” said Spanish teacher Caroline Scheer. “I am still figuring out how to navigate all of the features and remembering the different codes for assignments and how to make comments.”
Maclay teachers, such as Scheer, are finding themselves accommodating to another mid-pandemic adjustment. Although the teachers at Maclay are flexible and understanding of the grading system modifications, maintaining the PowerSchool platform would have lessened stress for teachers.
Directly impacted by the switch to FACTS were the Maclay students. In the past year, students have been forced to adjust to learning both in-person and online cohesively. During such times of uncertainty, PowerSchool was a recognizable resource of the past that students could depend on. Consequently, when the move to FACTS was announced and used on the first day, students were caught off guard.
“I was wondering why they [Maclay School] would be switching to FACTS since we’ve used PowerSchool for so many years,” said sophomore Charlie Rust. “If the system works, it works. We don’t need to change it.”
Rust, along with his peers, was surprised when the switch to FACTS was announced and felt that the school’s preparation for students was minimal.
“I think it would have been more helpful if they had [us], like during homeroom, all set up FACTS together and if we had questions, we could go over it then,” said Rust.
As Maclay rapidly enters the fourth week of classes, students still have questions and concerns about FACTS. These questions correspond with bleak student opinions and comparisons which side with PowerSchool.
Although the response to FACTS at Maclay has been largely negative, some students and teachers like how the website organizes all school and financial-related information on one platform. However, incorrectly displayed information and a new unfamiliar grading system caused FACTS to have a bad first impression on upper school users.
Despite getting off to a rocky start, FACTS is not a complete lost cause for the Maclay community. Administrative efforts to properly inform the Maclay community on FACTS will minimize campus-wide confusion while commemorating the legacy of PowerSchool. For now, however, PowerSchool still has our hearts.