(Copyright 1999 by The Tattoo. All rights reserved.)

The Tattoo

--- Making a Permanent Impression Since 1994 ---

May 10, 1999

Computer glitches not yet over

By CHANTELLE GARZONE
The Tattoo

Flaws in the new computer software at Bristol's high
schools have led to confused attendance records and
delays in report cards, desperately needed grade point
averages for graduating seniors, class rankings and
honor rolls.

But administrators say they had to employ a new
software program and got the best one on the market.

School officials learned last summer that the company
that had supplied the software for the school computer
system in the past had been bought out and they
couldn't use the old program anymore.

After reviewing alternatives, the schools picked a
program named School Administration Student
Information (commonly called "sassy").

Though students and staff alike have had run-ins with
the new system, Bristol Eastern High School Principal
Everett Lyons said the program is "pretty good."

"Its a learning process for everybody," said Lyons,
and it's simply "a matter of fine-tuning it."

The new program had to be tailored to suit Eastern's
needs, for things such as perfect attendance and honor
roll, said Lyons.

Second marking period report cards were nearly a
month overdue because half year exams had to be en-
tered into the new system manually.

The honor roll hasn't been released yet because gym
doesn't count but the new program identifies it as a
course like all the others.

Another major problem is class rank, Lyons said,
"because we had to convert and enter all the previous
grades" by hand.

Unfortunately, this is just the beginning.

According to Lyons, the fourth marking period might
also cause a dilemma also because of the problem of
averaging final grades.

Despite its complications, Eastern secretary Edith
Mosback said SASI is a necessary change in the
school system.

"I can open many windows at one time, I can go into
grades, schedules, etceteras, while in our old program
I could only do one at a time," raved Mosback. "The
old system was a menu-driven program and I couldn't
alter the system."


"I have a lot more freedom of doing things the way I
want," Mosback said.

Even report cards are being made differently, said
Mosback.

Grades are recorded by a Scantron machine that reads
computer forms on which teachers have penciled in
the proper bubbles instead of the obsolete method of
hand entering each individual number.

Another change this year is that report cards are
printed at the school instead of the past practice of
sending them out.

Eastern freshman Kristy Harrington said of the new
report cards, "They don't come out when they're
supposed to and the teachers don't know what's going
on."

Daniel Veins, an assistant principal at Eastern, said
report cards take longer because of the need to verify
all grades.

"A simple bubbling error is enough to stop a
machine," said Veins. "If a teacher writes in two tens
for example instead of 100."

The new program "is very powerful, if you put a
period in the wrong place it could throw off some
information," stressed Veins.

Each student's entire history (such as attendance,
scheduling, discipline, and grades) said Veins, is
contained in an icon called an "atom."

Even with all of SASI's technological advances, items
such as perfect attendance have been thrown into 
mass confusion this year, according to Veins.

Veins said that the new software counts someone as
having perfect attendance even if they are late or leave
early. "For perfect attendance you must be in school
everyday all day," Veins said.

Under the new system, field trips are counted as
absences and tardies as excused absences. 

As far as grade point averages go, Veins said, "Were
almost there."

Taking an optimistic viewpoint, Mosbeck said, "I think
it will take a year or two to have it up and running to
our school specifications."

In the words of Mosbeck, SASI "has its good points
and its bad points."

But in any case, it's here to stay.


For another story on the subject, please click here.


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