02/04/05 — School board board to decide on computer policy Monday

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School board board to decide on computer policy Monday

By Phyllis Moore
Published in News on February 4, 2005 2:04 PM

The Wayne County school board is expected to vote on two policies Monday night that would regulate the way teachers use computers and change the process for calculating class ranking.

School officials presented the policies to school board members during committee meetings on Thursday, hoping to speed up the voting process since a state mandate will be in effect before the board meets again in March.

NC Wise, the state-adopted system for managing data such as attendance and student grades, will replace SIMS, the Student Information Management System. School systems across the state are in the process of training employees on the new procedures, with the conversion expected to be complete by March.

Olivia Pierce, executive director for community relations for the Wayne County schools, said there is already a policy in place for employee use of technology, particularly e-mail etiquette and security standards. The new policy takes it a step further, as it relates to at-home use of the computer for school business.

Under the NC Wise policy, teachers will be the only designated users allowed to enter grades and keep attendance on the computer program. The system will be password-secure, Mrs. Pierce said, and the password will expire every 90 days, at which time a new one must be created.

The state is requiring every school system to sign a memorandum of understanding, she said, to ensure that security standards are being met. Each employee will also have to sign an acceptable use agreement every year, indicating whether he plans to utilize NC Wise at home.

"We can't prohibit them from using it at home to access NC Wise," Mrs. Pierce said. "What we have done is, by signing this agreement the teacher will commit that if they use it at home, they'll have all the virus protections necessary."

In order to reduce the risk of others accessing information or changing grades, she said, the system has a number of safeguards in place to prevent that. Teachers could also be subject to loss of network privileges and possible dismissal.

"The state is looking at that as a dismissable offense, if a teacher compromises NC Wise," she said.

The second policy concerns quality points given for each course grade, used to determine class rank and other honors.

Dr. Sandra McCullen, associate superintendent for instruction, said that board approval is necessary now so the school system can proceed with making the change to high school registration catalogs that will be used for the fall. She said the policy comes under the NC Wise system as it relates to student report cards.

The Department of Public Instruction's policy, adopted this year, says that all students shall follow a quality point sytem with a grade assigned according to regular, honors and advanced placement courses. The system determines class rank, as well as valedictorian, salutatorian, honor graduates, marshals, National Honor Society, principal's list, and honor roll.

According to the new quality point system, Dr. McCullen said, the number of points given to number grades will change slightly. The school system will also add several honors classes in math, science, and career and technical education.