PowerSchool Learning reliability drops as problems emerge

Staff members debate on switching to Google Classroom

By Megan Curry

As soon as it hits 7:30 a.m., students at Huntley High School log onto their Chromebooks, especially PowerSchool Learning, to get started with the day. The constant change of classes and workload is normal for many students working with PowerSchool Learning. This all comes to an end when a curveball hits them like a truck. 

PowerSchool Learning, formerly known as Haiku Learning, is an online program that District 158 has been using for years for teachers to communicate with students regarding assignments, announcements, and grades. Many teachers have used it to its full advantage, creating it to be more visually appealing and giving students as many resources as possible. Others however, have put minimal effort into the program, not providing students with the proper tools they need to succeed. 

The most recent setback with PowerSchool Learning was the disconnection of Google Drive to PowerSchool. Many students are given assignments by their teachers through Google Documents to complete and turn into PowerSchool. The recent problem prevented students from turning in these documents without having to constantly restart their PowerSchool page. 

“The internet errors cause me to become very frustrated because some teachers see them as excuses,” junior Kara Zimolzak said. “I’ve adapted by sending super long emails in order to explain my situation in an attempt to save my grade on assignments.” 

Students are unable to communicate certain errors to teachers, and once they do tell them, they tend to get vague responses and no real help as to how to resolve the issue. Many teachers came up with temporary solutions, such as converting to PDF or emailing the documents, but none of these are fit for long term solutions. 

Many staff members and faculty are considering switching to Google Classroom, another form of communication from teachers to students, to post assignments and updates. It is operated through Google and works on many different teaching platforms that teachers tend to lean towards to make learning more efficient and fun. However, there are still some teachers who still have not considered the idea or even like the idea.

“I have not [considered switching to Google Classroom]. I have actually used Google Classroom in the past, and from my experience it was a constant bunch of streams and everything like that. I actually found it a little tricky to navigate,” math teacher Eric Moore said. 

Moore had started off his career at Huntley working with PowerSchool, and never really considered the switch. He worked with mentors throughout the first couple of years to help get a good feel for PowerSchool and then he started branching out on his own. He has changed his page throughout the years, and keeping up with the times, but overall he enjoys working with PowerSchool. 

Many teachers are so used to using PowerSchool Learning for everything and would almost never consider the switch. As more and more programs start emerging and more platforms are relying on Google Classroom, many have already made the switch and have completely different opinions. 

Google Classroom offers many different benefits than PowerSchool, such as a customizable rubrics and easy grading policies. 

“The dropbox allows me to make a rubric and it allows me to make a rubric to grade that has been extremely useful. The rubric feature in PowerSchool had gotten better and better, but it wasn’t what I wanted,” science teacher Allison Tuleo said. 

Tuleo had initially started off with PowerSchool but then switched to Google Classroom in late 2020 due to COVID-19. She then took notes from the social studies department and learned how to work Google Classroom to her own advantage. According to Tuleo, she does significantly less clicking, the features are very easy to follow, and the program gets fixed faster.

Overall, both programs have their disadvantages and their benefits but it all comes down to the teacher’s preference and the best use for the subject. Both programs are great for communication with students and for assigning work, but both definitely have their flaws. As of Nov. 15, PowerSchool Learning’s problems were fixed and are working just as new.