Jan

6

Why Your Grades Take So Long To Show Up

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Basically this
Basically this

Basically this

Bwog is still waiting on a few grades, and judging by the comments, you are too. But it might not be entirely your professor’s fault: according to an email sent out to 1007 students by Prof. John Kender, Columbia’s grading system is more than 30 years old.

Columbia processes grades by using a system that was first released in 1972. In order to have kept it running for more than 40 years, it has consistently run special-purpose emulators that make its otherwise state-of-the-art systems think that they are stuck in the 70s and using an operating system called “CP/CMS”:

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/VM_(operating_system)

The grading system is written in a programming language called “Focus,” which in 1975 was one of the very first database languages developed and released:

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/FOCUS

But because of this, grades are processed only once per day, in a batch job that runs at about midnight every night. I am not making this up.

The university, recognizing that it is time for it to upgrade, does have plans for replacing the grading system. The upgrade is scheduled for the year 2020. I am not making this up either.

Update (Jan. 7, 3:50 pm):

Kender is concerned about the response this has received, and would like to clarify the following:

  1. I did in fact work in industry for two years between my MS and my PhD, and I have been a consultant to “real world” companies since 1979.
  2. I did not send out the same memo last year.
  3. I have never claimed that the only reason my grades were late were the system. I submitted course grades three days late (1/5, not on the due date of 1/2). But they appeared on student transcripts on 1/7.
  4. It is biologically impossible for me to be a bitch.

We’re not making this up either via Shutterstock

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33 Comments

  1. Positivity

    is the key. I'm trying to focus on Downton Abbey returning last night instead.

    Also this:http://edithwithgooglyeyes.tumblr.com/post/72452613432/you-know-i-do-more-than-anything

  2. Hobo Administrator  

    Sorry, but Prof. Kender gets it a bit wrong. The age of the information system does not matter at all.

    All the instructor has to do is grade the student and enter the grade in CourseWorks or SSOL. The next day, the student sees the grade.

    There is no grand mystery in any of this. The work of grading is done, then the grades are entered, then the student sees the grade.

    • CS undergrad

      Also according to Prof. Kender, sometimes the script does not get run. (such as the night after he put in his 1007 grades) He's just giving some background as to how the system works to explain why this happens sometimes.

      Also, it's 2014 now. There is really no reason it should take a day for data to move from one part of a server to another. We have tools like ActiveRecord that make it stupidly simple to write database applications. Or you can use Java if you want to be more future proof. Either way, it should not take until 2020 to reimplement this.

  3. Dear Bwog

    WHAT AM I DOING WITH MY LIFE?????????????

    Sincerely,

    Winter Break Crisis

  4. Anonymous

    Columbia stubbornly sticks to using inefficient systems at the expense of the students and drags its feet on any improvements? Well I never!

  5. [vague demand about transparency]

    Gonna start writing my course evals with my mom's electric typewriter from the 70s and mailing them in with the pony express.

  6. BS walks

    The lack of accountability in this article is amazing. Either Kender is delusional or he thinks we re all idiots. He didn't submit grades, grades didn't get posted. He's lazy - plain and simple- I have professors that are nowhere near as technologically savvy and yet they somehow managed to get everything in. Kender, you've never worked in the real world.

    • Calm down there

      Would you like to grade 3 hours * number of seats in NoCo 501 of writing over break?

      Stop worrying about your grades and go spend some time with your family. Go hiking in a nearby state park or pick up a new hobby. There's plenty of time to worry about grades later!

      • grrrr

        Are you kidding me?
        Would you like to keep anxiously waiting for your final gpa so you can send it to scholarships, fellowships and grade programs, but be stuck waiting on a prof who won't do his damn job?
        Would you like to be one of the students who feels like they failed a course or is on the edge of being on academic probation and be told to "take a hike?"
        Just do your job. A professor's job is to grade students and release our grades.Asking for a grade isn't some crazy, unreasonable, magical thing. We pay 60,000 dollars a year so that you can be bothered to do little things like "teach us", "grade us" and "give us exams". For damn sake, just release our grades so we can stop bothering you and go actually enjoy ourseles without having to troll ssol every night.

  7. where is my last grade

    FUCK I JUST WANT TO GRADUATE

  8. not sure if true but  

    if it is, can we use the same system to submit our papers/assignments?

  9. Anonymous

    Ha, that's punchcard era.

  10. for what it's worth

    he sent out the same email last year when he didn't submit grades on time. Even if he did submit grades on Sunday and the script didn't get run, it's still inexcusable to blame the system for being over 5 days late.

  11. Bullfuckery

    This is total fuckery. Yes, the system updates only once a day, usually around 8-10 pm on weekends and midnight-3 am on weekdays, which is archaic, but if professors enter the grades at any time before that night's "batch," the grade will show up the following day. I've entered grades before. I've never had a problem with the system not updating for five days. You can see right at the top of the Grades page on SSOL the time that it last updated. If your professor is bullshitting around saying he did it and it's not updating, just check the date. It'll say something like "last updated [insert date/time here]." Chances are, your professor is a lazy lying bitch!

  12. err

    So, Prof. Kender is saying that somehow most other professors manage to get the grades in before the due date, but for him SSOL magically freezes and will not update for five days. Hmm, that seems completely credible.

  13. Can we just

    make a tumblr blog with all of Kender's emails from various semesters?

  14. BetterThanOlley

    Guys, Professor Olley from Micro department still hasn't even finished grading our finals from 12/20 yet. Kender was slow, but at least he got it in on time for job applications. Olley, on the other hand.....smfh

  15. seriously though  

    who cares that you are missing one or two grades?

    does anyone?

    print the transcript and send it off to whoever and be done with it.

  16. Pissing my pants

    About my damn calc grade! Let me see the damage!!!!!

  17. Let's just appreciate this

    "4. It is biologically impossible for me to be a bitch."

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