Grade & Comment Review Configuration and Management

Overview

It is common practice at many schools to institute a review process for teachers’ grades and comments before they are published to progress reports or report cards. Grades and comments can be reviewed by many different people in the school, such as principals, peers (other teachers), or other staff and administrators. Veracross facilitates this process by providing a space for dialogue between the teacher and their reviewer(s) along with the ability for the reviewer to make edits directly to the grades/comments. Administrative Reviewers complete their reviews from the Grade & Comment Review homepage in Axiom, while Teacher Reviewers complete theirs from a dedicated Grade Review System Screen within the Teacher Portal.

This article outlines the process for configuring Grade & Comment Review for first time use in a school, and management tasks that must be performed.

Learn more about the workflows, tools, and platforms used in the Grade & Comment Review process.
Learn more about the various reports available to administrators of the Grade & Comment Review Process.

Configuration

In the lower-right corner of the Grade & Comment Review homepage is the Configuration section. Everything a school needs to configure grade and comment review is located here. The configuration process consists of one major and four minor tasks:

  1. Configuring all reviewers using Report Card Review Configuration records. This is the major task, that takes the most time.
  2. Ensuring that the correct courses allow reviews.
  3. Enabling the Grade & Comment Review section in the Teacher Portal from the appropriate Report Card Form configuration record.
  4. Editing email templates.
  5. If using Portals Review, adding the Grade Review portal link to Faculty Portals.

1. Grade Review Configuration

Reviewers are assigned using the “Grade Review Configuration” record. This record represents one reviewer and the set of students they are responsible for reviewing. In this record, students are assigned to reviewers based on a set of criteria and with a certain set of review permissions. These options are determined per reviewer, providing the ability to directly model the school’s review process in the data. There are two aspects to this configuration record: High level configuration and Criteria.

High Level Configuration

School Year
Select the School Year for which this reviewer should have Grade Review Records generated. Despite the presence of system parameters as options in the School Year drop-down menu (e.g., {Current_School_Year}), this field must be populated by a concrete school year, such as 2020-2021. These configuration records can be copied to subsequent years, but they are always tied to a specific school year. School Year must be set at the time the record is created.

Reviewer Person
Click on the magnifying glass icon to select the person who is performing these reviews and with whom this record will be associated. Reviewer person must be set at the time the record is created.

Reviewer Group and Review Type
The Reviewer Group is a way to categorize reviewers. This is a school-defined field without system functionality. It may be useful to schools with large numbers of reviewer to tag them into different categories.

The Review Type is useful for schools that have more than one review per student (e.g. a teacher peer review followed by an administrative review) or different types of review for different classes (e.g. advisor review for academic classes and administrative review for advisor comments).  The type will be tracked on the review records that are created, giving reviewers the ability to sort or manage their reviews by type (if they are assigned multiple types of review). The type description is also displayed next to the review in the grades and comments form in the teacher portal. If a reviewer will be completing more than one type of review, separate configurations must be created for each one. This is one scenario where a school may need multiple review configuration records per person.

New Review Types may be created from the Grade & Comment Review Homepage by clicking on the “+ Add Grade Review Type” link, filling in the fields on the blank Grade Review Type record that appears, and clicking the “Add Grade Review Type” button. Review type descriptions can also be edited after creation.

Status
Review records will only be created for configuration records marked as “Active.” If a configuration should no longer be set to create reviews, it should be marked as “Obsolete.” This will not erase review records that have already been created from this configuration.

Grading Period Group and School Level Settings
Reviewers are set per school level and grading period group. Select the school level that corresponds to the division of the students with whom the reviewer will be working. Set the grading period group likewise. If a reviewer is assigned to more than one grading period group or school level, separate configurations must be created for each one. This is one scenario where a school may need multiple review configuration records per person. Grading period group and school level must be set at the time the record is created.

Mid/Minor Grading Periods
Toggle between NO and YES to determine if grade review records are generated for this reviewer for mid grading periods (typically associated with progress reports) and/or minor grading periods (typically associated with report cards). Please see the “grading period” criteria option below for more complex grading period assignment (e.g. Reviewer must review for one minor grading period/mid-period but not another).

Reviewer Notification Status
By default, this field is set to”Enable Email Notifications,” which means that the reviewer in question will receive an email notification (the reviewer notification email template) when one of their reviews is assigned the status of “Next Action – Reviewer” by a teacher who has responded to an initial comment from the reviewer. No emails will be sent when reviews are assigned the status of “Ready for Review.” Set this field to “Disable Email Notifications” if this reviewer should not receive them. This is likely the best setting if a reviewer is assigned more than a couple hundred reviews.

Reviewer Grade Locking Status
By default, this field is set to “Allow Locking”, allowing reviewers to lock grade records when the review is completed. This stops teachers from making edits to their grades or comments after the review is completed. If this action should not be performed by the reviewer, set the value to “Disallow Locking.”

Reviewer Grade Status
By default this field is set to “Updatable While Grading Open,” allowing the review to directly edit grades for the students they review while the given grade field is set to “Open for Grading” in the report card form. If the reviewer should be able to edit grades after grading has been closed for teachers, set this field to “Always Updatable.” If the reviewer should never be able to directly edit grades, set this field to “Read Only.”

Reviewer Comment Status
By default this field is set to “Updatable While Grading Open,” allowing the review to directly edit comments for the students they review while comments are set to “Open for Grading” in the report card form. If the reviewer should be able to edit comments after comments have been closed for teachers, set this field to “Always Updatable.” If the reviewer should never be able to directly edit comments, set this field to “Read Only.”

Notes
The Grade Review Configuration notes field is internal only and will not display to teachers or reviewers.

Grade Review Configuration Criteria

Reviewers are assigned to grades and comments that they will review based on one or multiple criteria records.  Criteria are configured using the input grid below the high level configuration options.

Fields on the criteria record:

  • Filter Category: specifies what type of filter this criteria record will use.  Filtering categories include teacher, advisor, class, class school level, course subject, course classification, report card template, course type, student grade level, student group, student homeroom, student campus, student resident status, student gender, and student last name initial.
    • The teacher will create review records for kids in all classes where the given teacher has one of these permission roles: Primary Teacher, Additional Teacher, Coach or Assistant Coach.
    • There is also a grading period option, the use of which is discussed below.
  • Filter Value: indicates the specific value within the category that will be used to assign reviews. E.g. Teacher name for the teacher category, subject name for the subject category, specific grade level for the grade level category, etc. The choice of value that is entered into the field will be converted to the ID number when the record is updated.
  • Value description: the description of the record that was selected for the Filter Value. This field is automatically populated after completing the filtering line and clicking Update.
  • Filter Criteria Type: either include or exclude. If multiple criteria are inserted into a given configuration, this specifies the nature of their interaction.
  • Filter Group: combines multiple layers of filter criteria to account for exceptions to criteria rules. For example, a reviewer is responsible for all teachers within a particular subject except Teacher X, but they are also assigned another subject wherein they will be reviewing Teacher X. The first criterion would be for all teachers within a particular subject; use the “include” Filter Criteria type with the Filter Category set to “Course Subject” and Filter Value set to “Subject Y.” Assign this criterion a Filter Group value (e.g. Group 1). Add a second criterion for the one exception using the “exclude” Filter Criteria type with the Filter Category set to “By Teacher” and the Filter Value set to “Teacher X.” Assign this criterion the same Filter Group name as the one above so the system knows to create review records for all students within that course subject except for those taught by Teacher X. Then create the third criterion for “Subject Z” with the filter group set to a different value (e.g. Group 2).

Complex Grading Period Configuration

Some schools may have the need to set reviewers to review grades and comments for specific minor or mid grading periods but not others. To accomplish this first make sure that mid or minor grading periods (whichever type is being modified) are enabled in the overall configuration. Next, add a criteria record with the filter category set to “Grading Period” and the Filter Criteria Type set to “Exclude.” Then select as the “Filter Value” the mid/minor grading period for which reviews should not be generated. The “Grading Period” criteria cannot be the only criteria used, and must be used with the “Any Group” filter group.

2. Ensuring Courses Have Grade Review Enabled

AllowReviewflagClick on the Course List (Has Review) link in the Configuration section of the Grade & Comment Review homepage to access a list of all courses, highlighting the “Allow Reviews” field on these records. Ensure that all courses where reviews will be needed have this field checked, and all courses that do not require review have it unchecked.

3. Enabling Grade Review from Report Card Form Configuration

Click on the Report Card Forms (Section Grade Review) link on the grade review homepage to access a list of your report card forms with the field “Section Grade Review” highlighted. Check this to enable the review section in the specific report card form within the Teacher Portal for classes that have Grade Review records created.

4. Email Templates

There are two system email templates that are used to notify reviewers and teachers when they have new tasks assigned to them. These may be modified by clicking on the Email Templates link on the Grade & Comment Review Homepage.

  • Teacher Notification: this template is sent to teachers when the grade review has been sent back and requires action. The email is triggered by the reviewer writing a comment to the teacher, which changes the review status to “Next Action – Teacher.”
  • Reviewer Notification: this template is sent to reviewers who have notifications enabled when the grade review is sent back to the reviewer. The email is triggered when the teacher writes a comment back to the teacher, which changes the review status to “Next Action – Reviewer.”

5. Adding Portal Links to the Faculty Portal

If a school has assigned teachers as reviewers they will want those users to access their reviews from the faculty portal.  In this scenario the school must configure a link component in the faculty portal to direct to the grade review system screen.

Click on the Portal Admin homepage, then click on the relevant Portal in the Find Portals section. From the Portal detail screen, click on the Component Screen tab, then select the screen in which the button should appear and click on the “Edit…” link. From here, add the link component wherever is appropriate and direct it to this system link: {system:grade_and_comment_review}. Learn more about configuring Portals.

Management

After the initial configuration of the grade & comment review process, there are management tasks which need to be performed every grading period and every year. The queries required for these tasks are located in the Management section of the Grade and Comment Review Homepage.

Enabling Grade Review per Grading Period

When a school is ready to begin the Review Process prior to the release of progress reports or report cards, the grading period in question needs to be marked as Grade Review Active. This field is highlighted in the version of the grading periods query on the Grade and Comment Review Homepage: “Grading Periods (Review Active).” Only the grading period(s) for which review is currently occurring should be marked as active. All of the queries on the system homepage, as well as the default view in the grade review system screen in the portal, and the procedure for creating grade review records are filtered by this field. 

Creating Grade Review Records

Once the one time configuration is complete and the correct grading period(s) have been set as Review Active, grade review records can then be created for that grading period. In the   action menu on the Grade and Comment Review Homepage , select the “Create Reviews from Configuration” action item. This procedure will create review records:

  • for the grade review active grading periods,
  • for all “Active” Grade Review Configuration records,
  • according to the criteria set on the record,
  • which are set to the current school year,
  • and are enabled for the correct type of grading period (E.g. set for minor grading periods if the grade review active period is minor),
  • for all students who have not been withdrawn from the class before the start date of the grading period in question. 
  • The resulting review records are accessible from the Find Reviews query on the Grade Review Homepage. They are also accessible from the class enrollment records “reviews tab.”

If changes are made to configuration records after the procedure has been run, there are two options for propagating these changes to the active set of review records.

  1. Re-run the Create Review Records from Configuration procedure from the division homepage. The procedure will remove any empty review records (records on which no update has yet been made by teacher or reviewer or administrator) and recreates new records according to the current configuration (not for configuration records that have been subsequently obsoleted, and according to the now existing criteria. Any existing review records with data will not be removed.
  2. Run the Re-create Review Records from Configuration procedure from a specific review configuration record to only recreate reviews for that configuration. This procedure is the same as the procedure on the homepage, but it only applies to the configuration in question.

Once this is complete for a given grading period, teachers will see the Review section enabled on their Grades & Comment tab in the Teacher Portal and the review process can commence.

Applying ‘No Review Needed’ Appropriately

Depending on what an individual school’s policies may be surrounding students that have withdrawn during the grade review active grading period, schools may wish to mark these records as “No Review Needed.” The ‘Withdrawn Students with Review’ link in the Management section of the Grade & Comment Review homepage shows a list of such review records. The Review Status column can be manually or batch updated to “No Review Needed.”

Updating Review Status Manually or In Batch

There are other scenarios, besides the “No review needed” scenario above, in which school grade review managers may want to update review statuses from axiom. Some schools may have a deadline when all grades and comments are submitted. Instead of asking teachers to mark grades and comments as “Ready for Review,” they may choose to update them to this status all at once. This may also be useful for schools that do want teachers to mark their grades and comments as ready during the first few rounds with the new system. This is the purpose of the them using the Update Review Status query in the management section of the Grade Review Homepage, which displays all “not ready for review” review records for the Grade Review Active Grading Period.

Copying Grade Review Configuration Records to the Next Year

After the school year has been rolled over, review configuration records from the previous year can be copied to the current year and modified as needed. On the Grades and Comments Review Homepage  Action Menu, select the “Copy Previous Year Review Configuration” menu item. Running this procedure copies all active review configuration records from the previous school year to the current school year.