Canvas Live Grading

Emma Judge '22, Staff Writer

With the rise of online learning and virtual assignments, Montrose has introduced the use of an online forum called Canvas. Canvas allows students to manage their work in one place, rather than the daily checking of email, Google Classroom, Google Calendars, and MyMontrose that caused confusion amongst the student body during the past spring’s virtual model. But with Canvas, parents become active observers of their childrens’ accounts. This allows them to potentially receive daily emails with their childrens’ assignments, grades, and class links. Not only is this an added responsibility to the parents, who may feel an obligation to enforce their childrens’ learning habits while they are at home, it is also an additional pressure point for the students. 

Of the 50 people that responded to a survey about Canvas and the postings that their parents might receive, 58% responded that their parents get emails from Canvas. Only nine respondents said that their parents do not get email notifications from Canvas. 68% of people said that their parents mention the emails they get from Canvas and 24% of the group surveyed said that their parents mention their schoolwork daily. Most importantly, the vast majority of people said that the fact that their parents can see their schoolwork whenever they choose is a source of stress for them. When asked about the stresses of parental oversight on their Canvas page, one student replied: “It is so scary. And not like the occasional jump scare in a horror movie. This is literally prolonged fear, pressure, and stress. I think that my parents all of a sudden feel the need to interfere with my studies just because they can view my every move and mistake.” After having a six-month period of minimal work and overall quarantine laziness, the transition back to school has not been an easy one. That, combined with the general stress of back to school season, has made it difficult to transition into some semblance of normalcy. That being said, the added pressure from parents, now that they are constantly able to see our grades, has been another source of stress, and one that many feel is unnecessary. Prior to online grading, parents were shown our good grades and the bad ones were conveniently omitted. This was easy to do when everything was on paper. But since grades and assignments are posted online, parents are able to see if an assignment is just a few hours late. When speaking to another student, they mentioned that their parents would remind them of late assignments even if they had turned it in on paper in class. This is anxiety-inducing for a number of reasons, mainly because, as high school students, we are expected to be independent and prepare for college. With parents looking over our shoulders 24/7, the odds are not in our favor in regards to taking control of our education. Especially for juniors and seniors, the idea of independence is becoming increasingly important as we approach the college application process and will be in college in less than two years. 

In spite of the feelings regarding online grading and assignment posting being accessible to parents, many people replied that Canvas has been a great organizational tool for this year. One new high school student said: “Even though it has been a challenge to navigate Canvas this year, especially during the pandemic, Montrose teachers have done an exceptional job staying on top of grades, giving constructive feedback, giving quality lessons to students working from home, and giving students grace periods for missing work.” Overall, the responses about the convenience of Canvas and having schoolwork in one place were generally positive. Many students were grateful to have all of the information they need for class in one place, even if it took some adjusting at first. In an interview with Associate Head of Academics Ms White, she discussed some of the positive sides of Canvas. One of the aspects she spoke about was that allowing parents to see grades facilitates parents’ ability to better support students who are struggling with schoolwork. She also spoke about how Montrose wants students to be able to see their grades, and the parent view allows grades to be shown because the parents see what the students do. However, she did agree that grades should not be the family’s primary focus, but rather growth in virtue, stating: “The things that are most important should take up the most time.” An overwhelming majority of students have said that it is an additional unnecessary stress to have parents be able to see every detail of their school day, which makes me think that many conversations between parents and their children are about grades, at least from the child’s perspective.  

So the question is: How do we allow students to have control over their grades while also facilitating balanced parent-student communication for students who are struggling? My suggestion would be to return to the old system of students receiving grades from their teachers and only notifying parents if their child is struggling in school. This would potentially entail removing parent view entirely, and enabling it on a case-by-case basis, meaning that the school can determine whether or not a student needs their parents to be able to see their day-to-day schedule and grading. Not only would this help students who are struggling with schoolwork, it would also reduce some of the stress on students who don’t need their parents worrying about their grades. Overall, I’m not calling for a rebellion against Canvas, but some reform in parent access wouldn’t be such a bad idea. 

Emma Judge ‘22, Staff Writer Picture Credits