Infinite Campus and Standards-Based Learning

Our district uses Infinite Campus as a student information system that tracks grades, attendance, behavior, and many other data points. Our 6-12 PLC has been playing around with making Infinite Campus work well with our transition to Standards-Based Learning. Before I get to in-depth, let me refresh you on the document our district has released regarding Standards-Based Learning entitled Fair and Consistent Practices. Right now, we are using:

  • Weighted vs. Unweighted Categories
  • Included vs. Excluded Categories
  • Active vs. Inactive Assignments
  • Assignment Marks
  • Google Docs to "Average"

Weighted vs. Unweighted Categories Currently, Infinite Campus has us create Assignments within Categories. Each category can be given a certain weight. Within our Standards-Based Learning, this is either 1 (all assignments are counted equally into the overall academic grade) or 0 (none of the assignments are counted in the overall academic grade). Other than drilling down into the Categories view or doing some quick mental math in the Gradebook view, there is no visual way to see the weight of a category.

View of an Individual Category
View of an Individual Category

Included vs. Excluded Categories You can see in the above screenshots the options to exclude categories. This provides a much better visual representation of an Assignment not being calculated in the overall academic grade, but accomplishes the same thing mathematically as a weight of 0. In the Gradebook view, an Excluded Category shows up in red.

Active vs. Inactive Assignments You can see the two different pieces of red text in the above screenshot. The red category indicates that it is excluded. The red Assignment "A1D" indicates that it is inactive. This accomplishes the same thing as an excluded category, but on the individual assignment level.

Assignment Marks This feature of Infinite Campus allows us to use a 1-4 rating scale that is weighted or curved. In the Infinite Campus Directory, under Instruction -> Admin -> Assignment Marks, you can create a new grading curve.

Setting up Assignment Marks
Setting up Assignment Marks

This is a scale suggested to us in the document used to train teachers on setting up Assignment Marks. For our purposes, it allows students who are "Meeting the Standard" on our Wind Rubric and Percussion Rubric to still receive As. Any assignment can be setup using Assignment Marks:

Applying Assignment Marks to an Assignment
Applying Assignment Marks to an Assignment

Make sure that all of your assignments meant to be assessed using Assignment Marks are selected as such! If you set them up as 4 points, then a ¾ will calculate as a 75% instead of the weighted 93%. We found this out the hard way during our first time posting grades.

Google Docs to "Average" All of our assessments are currently done using SmartMusic (which I will detail in a later post). We find the SmartMusic Gradebook a bit cumbersome. We utilize its ability to record and playback student assessments to listen to their assessments and record their grades via Google Docs. We set up a Google Sheet with students names along the left-hand column, and each following column corresponding to a standard from the Wind and Percussion Rubrics. We then sum the points from all of the columns and use a similar weighting to the Assignment Marks to convert the grades for Infinite Campus.

Looking into the Future As we continue to experiment with Standards-Based Learning and making it work in our teaching environment, we are constantly adjusting. We have found things that we are both happy and unhappy with in terms of SmartMusic, Google Docs, and Infinite Campus. That being said, I feel very good that we are heading down the right path towards defining what we want our students to be able to know and do at each grade level and accurately assessing those skills.

I plan on experimenting a bit more with SmartMusic, and I will detail that in a later post. I also plan on experimenting more with JumpRope, a gradebook designed with Standards-Based Learning in mind. I plan on writing a bit more about that as well.

I think the most important part is the experimentation! We have found new and better ways to teach and assess material and our kids are better for it. It makes my teaching fun and exciting and constantly evolving. Is it next year yet?

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Burton Hable

Burton Hable is an instrumental music educator from Central Iowa. In 2013 he helped open Centennial High School in Ankeny, the first time in forty years that a school district in Iowa expanded to two high schools. He served there through 2018 as Assistant Director of Bands: conducting the 10th Grade Symphonic Band, directing the varsity Jazz Collective, co-directing the Centennial Marching and Pep Bands, teaching music theory, and providing individual and small group lessons to brass students in grades 6-12 at Prairie Ridge Middle School, Northview Middle School, and Centennial High School. During his tenure in Ankeny, enrollment in band grew from 450 to nearly 700, the jazz program expanded from four to seven ensembles, and ensembles under his direction were invited to perform at Iowa State University, Harper College, and the Veterans Day Parade in New York City.