Using PowerSchool Standards to Track SOL Mastery

By Terry Hawthorne


PowerSchool's standards functionality provides a way to track student mastery of Virginia's Standards of Learning (SOLs). Here are the steps required to implement this functionality. Some of the steps have to be performed by a district-level PowerSchool administrator. The remainder can be performed by school-level PowerSchool clerical staff.

  1. Create a course for each group of standards you wish to track. In Smyth County, we are tracking language arts and mathematics standards for grades K-3. We created the following courses:
    Course NumberCourse NameStandards of Learning
    LAKGGrade Kindergarten ReadingKindergarten Reading
    MAKGGrade Kindergarten MathematicsKindergarten Mathematics
    LA01Grade 1 ReadingGrade 1 Reading
    MA01Grade 1 MathematicsGrade 1 Mathematics
    LA02Grade 2 ReadingGrade 2 Reading
    MA02Grade 2 MathematicsGrade 2 Mathematics
    LA03Grade 3 ReadingGrade 3 Reading
    MA03Grade 3 MathematicsGrade 3 Mathematics
  2. Create one or more Conversion Scales for SOL tracking. A conversion scale contains the "grades" you will assign to each SOL, such as Mastered or Not Mastered. See Figure 1. Note that the conversion scale type is Alphanumeric.
  3. Screenshot of PowerSchool Standards conversion scale.

    Figure 1: PowerSchool Conversion Scale for SOL Mastery.

  4. Edit the conversion scale(s) you created in the previous step by adding descriptions for each "grade." See Figure 2. The value I entered for cutoff percent was arbitrarily chosen, because in Smyth County teachers are just going to directly assign Y for mastered or N for Not Mastered.
  5. Screenshot of PowerSchool Standards conversion scale entry item.

    Figure 2: PowerSchool Conversion Scale Item

  6. Create subject-level standards at the PowerSchool District level. We grouped all language arts standards under a standard called LA and all math standards under a standard called MA. See Figure 3 for an example of the MA standard. Note that the Type for all the standards we are going to create is School, rather than District or State. Setting the Standard type as School enables teachers to assign "grades" to each standard in PowerTeacher. Note also that subject-level standards should be assigned a Level of 1. PowerSchool groups standards in a hierarchical fashion. Subject-level standards will be at Level 1, followed by subject-grade-level standards such as MA.K at Level 2, followed by individual grade-level standards, such as MA.K.1 at Level 3. See Figure 4.
  7. Screenshot of PowerSchool Mathematics standard screen.

    Figure 3: PowerSchool Subject-Level Standard

    Screenshot illustrating PowerSchool standards hierarchy.

    Figure 4: PowerSchool Standards Hierarchy

  8. Create grade-level standards for each subject-level standard. We used the following naming scheme: LA.K, MA.K, LA.1,MA.1,LA.2,MA.2,LA.3,MA.3. See Figure 5 for an example. Note that the Alignment Identifier, Calculation Parent, and List Parent for each of your grade-level standards should be the corresponding subject-level standard, either LA or MA.
  9. Screenshot of PowerSchool Mathematics standard screen.

    Figure 5: PowerSchool subject-grade-level standard for Kindergarten Mathematics

  10. Create or import individual standards for each subject-grade-level area. These standards correspond to the Virginia SOLs. We entered the entire SOL in the standard description and used an abbreviated description as the name of the standard. (The standard name field is limited to 80 characters.) See Figure 6. Note that the Calculation and List Parents should be the appropriate subject-grade-level standard, such as MA.K or LA.1. Note also that we have assigned the appropriate course number to the standard. After we create sections of this course for each homeroom teacher, and assign the teachers' students to those sections, these sections will show up in PowerTeacher, where teachers will be able to assign each standard a "grade."
  11. Screenshot of individual PowerSchool SOL Standard.

    Figure 6: PowerSchool subject-grade-level standard for Kindergarten Mathematics

  12. The following tasks are to be completed by each school's PowerSchool clerical staff. Create sections for each of the courses that were created in the first step. From the PowerSchool home screen, navigate to Setup/School/Sections. (The Sections link is under Scheduling on the School Setup page.) Click one of the classes created in the first step. Then click the New button to create a section. See Figure 7 for the appropriate settings for the new section. You will need one language arts section and one math section for each homeroom teacher. To keep track of the section numbers, use a table like the following:
    CourseTeacher NameSection Number
    LAKGTeacher 11
    LAKGTeacher 22
    MAKGTeacher 11
    MAKGTeacher 22
    Here is a preformatted table with space for up to eight teachers per grade.
  13. Screenshot of PowerSchool sections page.

    Figure 7: PowerSchool sections page

  14. Assign students from each teacher's homeroom to the newly created sections:
      Navigate to the PowerSchool start page.
    1. Click the Teacher Schedules link under Functions.
    2. Select a teacher for whom you created sections in the previous step.
    3. Click the number of students link in that teacher's Homeroom section. See Figure 8.
    4. Screenshot of sections by teacher.

      Figure 8: Selecting the students in a teacher's homeroom

    5. PowerSchool will display a list of the students in that teacher's homeroom. Click the link that reads "Make this the current selection of students." See Figure 8.
    6. Screenshot of students in PowerSchool homeroom section.

      Figure 9: Making the students in homeroom the current selection of students

    7. PowerSchool will display the Group Functions screen. Click the Mass Enroll function.
    8. Mass enroll the selected students into the appropriate section by entering the course number and section number, separated by a dot. See Figure 9. The enrollment date will default to the current date. Any date you select is OK, as long as it falls within the current school term.
    9. Screenshot of PowerSchool mass enroll page.

      Figure 10: Mass enrolling the current selection of students into Section 2 of the Grade 2 Reading class (LA02).

    10. This concludes the tasks to be completed by each school's PowerSchool clerical staff.
  15. If you are using PowerSchool for elementary grading, you should already have grading periods established. You can use one of your existing grading periods to record the SOL mastery grade. If you don't have any grading periods established, navigate to Setup/School/Final Grade Setup and click New to create a grading period to store your SOL mastery records. Enter the name of the grading period and the starting and ending dates and click Submit to save your changes. PowerSchool grading periods usually consist of a single letter, followed by a single number, such as S6.
  16. From the PowerSchool home screen, navigate to Setup/School/Final Grade Entry Options.
  17. Select Global Settings.
  18. Check the "Enable teacher entry screen" checkbox. This setting will enable your teachers to enter the SOL mastery records in PowerTeacher.
  19. Enter appropriate settings in the "Final grade columns to display" and "Allow entry for these final grades" fields. In the example in Figure 11, we are assuming that the school has 6 six-week grading periods identified as S1–S6. We want teachers to enter student mastery of individual SOLs in the final grading period, S6. We won't have anything entered into other grading periods, so we are only going to display the S6 period. Please note that this screen sets grade entry options for all classes taught in the current school, so if you are using PowerSchool to record elementary grades, you will have to adjust your settings accordingly.
  20. Screenshot of PowerSchool Global Settings page.

    Figure 11: PowerSchool Final Grade Entry Options Global Settings page

  21. From the PowerSchool home screen, navigate to Setup/School/Final Grade Entry Options.
  22. Select Standards-based Grading. If Translated Average Score is not already selected in the Display/Enter dropdown list, select it. If you want teachers to be able to add a multiline comment to the mastery record, select Multi Line from the "Format for comment field" dropdown. Otherwise leave it at Single Line. Click Submit to save any changes you made.
  23. This step is optional. You can use it to pre-populate the individual student standards with a specific grade, such as Y for mastered.
    1. Create a text-based import file using the following specification:
      Student Grade_LevelStudentIDSchoolIDSchoolNameStandardsIDStoreCodeTransAverageScoreYearID
      2123456730Chilhowie Elementary School56S6Y19

      This example would create a record for a second-grade student with PowerSchool ID 123456 for standards ID 56 in school 730 (Chilhowie Elementary School) in grade reporting period S6 in the 2009-2010 school year (YearID 19). The value is Y, which represents mastered on our SOL Mastery conversion scale.

    2. Import that file into the PowerSchool Standards Scores table.
    3. You can set Date Stored manually through mass assign on the import page.

The easiest way to pre-populate the SOL mastery records is to use Microsoft Access in conjunction with the Oracle ODBC client. After setting up the Oracle ODBC connection, create an Access database with ODBC links to the following PowerSchool tables:

Create a query like the one pictured here.

This query allows you to create import files for individual schools. If you need finer-grained control over the import process, you could create a query that enables you to select specific classrooms. You would need the following tables in that query:

The joins in your query would look like this.