Course Failures and Grades in Schoolzilla

Grades and GPA are a powerful indicator of students' trajectory for graduation and college readiness. This article provides under-the-hood information on how Schoolzilla's course failure metrics and grades tables are calculated, how to configure your underlying data, what edge cases to consider and when to reach out to Support.

For more information about how to use this data for supporting students and schools, please download our white paper on this topic.

Course Failures and Grades in Schoolzilla - Overview

Schoolzilla helps you to understand systemic patterns around course performance and identify individual students who may need extra support by answering questions such as:

  1. What percent of students have failed core courses?
  2. Which students have failed core courses in the most recent grading period or term?
  3. In which courses is a student excelling or struggling?

viewing grades

Schoolzilla lets you answer these questions by:

  • Calculating a course failure metric by grading period or term, which displays as a tile or column on each dashboard.
  • Displaying a table with grades by course available by clicking on a course failure metric tile on the Student Profile. 

Configuring Your Grades Data

To ensure that your data is ready to display in Schoolzilla, there are 1) elements that you can configure; 2) elements that Schoolzilla implementations or support can configure and 3) elements that are not configurable.

Elements You Can Configure

In Data Configuration Settings you can set up:

  • Course Subject: Tell us which course subject areas are considered "core." Only grades earned in "core courses" will be used in the failing grades tally in the course failure metric calculations.
  • Grade Name: Tell us which grades your district considers "failing." For example, some districts focus on Fs and others consider Ds and Fs as failing grades. You dictate what matters in your context.
  • Grade Periods or Terms: Schoolzilla uses grade period categories and term categories to figure out the latest period to display as the overall number on a tile or column and what to include in one dot on a trend line. Here are some tips for configuring your grade periods and terms.
    • The Grade Period configuration form will impact the Course Failures by Grading Period if you use that metric. The Term configuration form will impact the Term GPA or Course Failures by Term if you use that metric. Please note that a term is typically based on the course length, such as a year-long course. A grading period is not based on the course length, it typically ends at equal intervals of the course length, such as Quarter 1.
    • DO group similar grade periods together, such as 6wk and 6-wk. This will ensure that grades earned in these grade periods show up as one dot on a district trend line.
    • DO order the grade period categories from left to right in the sequence that you expect them to show up on a trend line. PLEASE NOTE, whichever grade period category is furthest to the right with valid data will display as the current period for the metric.
    • CONSIDER putting any grade periods that you do not want to be included in this metric in Uncategorized. For example, if you are only interested in viewing progress report grades, put all other grade periods in Uncategorized. Then submit a support ticket to ask us to exclude "Uncategorized" from the metric.
    • AVOID grouping dissimilar grade period concepts into a single group, such as progress report periods and semesters/transcript grades, which will likely duplicate a student's grades into a single time period. If this is the case, on the student profile, you may see mismatches between the total number of overall course failures and the data shown in the expanded view of the course failures tile by class and grading period.

Elements Schoolzilla Support Can Configure

Schoolzilla's implementation and support teams help to fine-tune your metric in a few ways. To adjust any of these settings, please reach out to support.

  • Dataset Filters: By default, Schoolzilla adds a number of what we call "dataset filters" to display the most meaningful data for your schools and to essentially narrow the dataset down to get to the finest level of granularity for the metric.
    • Common dataset filters are: specific grade levels (often 9-12 only); final grades; specific grade types (such as transcript grades); and excluding students who have withdrawn from a course.
  • Performance Levels: By default, we bucket students into having failed 0 core courses, 1 core course or 2 or more core course. Additional levels can be added, and the cut points can be modified.
  • Metric Copies: It is also possible to request a metric copy to view multiple course failure metrics with different dataset filters. Some common use cases are: middle school and high school metrics and metrics by subject. Copies are especially useful if your school levels are on separate grade period cadences.

Elements That Are Not Configurable

In order to calculate the Course Failure metric and display a table of a student's grades by course, the following conditions are always true.

  • Course Failure metric and grades table display overall grades only. These cannot be configured to show component, standard or assignment grades.
  • Course Failure metric only includes grades in "Core Courses", as per your Data Configuration Settings selections.
  • Grades table on the Student Profile shows grades earned in any course, including non-core courses.
  • Grade Name values of '-----' are generally excluded with one exception. When Grade Name values from the source table are NULL, Schoolzilla populates this as '-----'. If your district administrator configures '-----' GradeName values to count as a Failing Grade, then these values will be included in the numerator of a course failure metric AND will show up in the grade detail table on the Student Profile. Otherwise, these grades will be excluded from the grade detail table.
  • Grade table shows all historical grades earned within the student's current school level. It may also show one additional year from the prior school level (e.g., 8th grade grades for a current 9th grader). The prior school level data will only display if this grade level is available per the dataset filters, which is often not the case.

We're Here to Help!

If you see duplicate grades per course-period or a mismatch between the number of overall course failures in core course and the grades table for a student, please reach out to Support. Some common issues are:

  • Multiple sections for the same class name and class period, often due to class withdrawals. A single class and class period combination (e.g., Environmental Science - 8) for a student also may have two sections associated with it, (e.g., Environmental Science - 8 - Section I and Environmental Science - 8 - Section II).  Both grades will be counted toward the course failure metric. However, the grades table will show only one row per class-period, taking the highest grade, and will not show a row per each section. If this is due to class withdrawals, a dataset filter can be added to exclude these from the metric.
  • Multiple Grade Period concepts grouped together. For example, if progress report grades and transcript grade periods are grouped together in Data Configuration Settings, you may see a mismatch between the number of overall course failures in core courses and the grades in the table. To resolve, you can separate the grade periods in Data Configuration Settings or reach out to support to let us know which grade period concept to display for this metric.

For more detailed business rules for the course failures metric please see this article.