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Prepare for the New School Year | Administrator Checklist
Prepare for the New School Year | Administrator Checklist

A list of all of the items that administrators want to make sure are taken care of before the start of the school year.

Monica Burke avatar
Written by Monica Burke
Updated over a week ago

With a new school year on the horizon, we want to make sure you are prepared with Otus to have a seamless start to the school year. Here are some things to keep in mind as the school year begins.

Whitelist

Although not managed from directly within Otus, it is very important to look at your district's whitelist. In order for Otus to function correctly, there are certain URLs that should be added to your district's whitelist. You'll want to confirm that all URLs listed here are on your district's whitelist. Send the list to your district's tech team; they'll know how to handle it!


Control Center Actions

The following settings are managed from the Control Center in the Main Admin account.

School Year Dates

Academic Sessions

These are the dates of your new school year, which helps the system know and automate date ranges in reporting. Click here to learn more.

Grading Periods

The date ranges within an academic session are used for specifying trimesters, semesters, terms, etc. More info on grading periods is available here.

💡 Tip: Check the dates of the Academic sessions and Grading Periods in the Control Center of the Main Admin account to insure they are correct.

Administrator Users

Admin Users & Permissions

Administrative users are managed separately from your class rosters. You can create admin accounts and set their permissions from within the Control Center. Admin accounts have the same capabilities as teacher accounts but also have additional administrative capabilities. See how you can manage admin users here.

💡 Tip: Review your current Admin users before the new school year begins to remove staff that have left and add those that are new.

Grading

Grading Scales

You have options in Otus to use traditional points-based grading, proficiency/standards-based scales, or a combination of both. In your main admin account, you control what grading scales are available and can create your own custom scales. Learn more here.

Mastery Settings

If you are using standards-based grading scales, you will also need to determine the mastery settings you'd like to use. The options are mean, median, mode, highest, and most recent. This setting is what determines how standards-based grades are calculated. Learn more here.

Standards

You can choose which standards (state standards, CCSS, NGSS) are available to your teachers to use in their gradebook and for assessment creation. If your district uses standards that are not included in our default standards, they can be uploaded as custom standards. More information can be found here.

💡 Tip: Review your current grading scales and mastery settings before the new school year begins to ensure they are set for the appropriate grade levels. Also, if you are using custom standards, have those uploaded before the start of the school year so teachers can access them immediately.


District Page Actions

The following settings are managed from the District page of the Main Admin account.

Groups

Student Groups

Otus allows you to create groups to ID segments of students like ELL, IEP, demographic indicators, or really anything that you’d like to be able to differentiate in your system reporting. Check out this article for a quick walk through.

Teacher Groups

Like student groups, Otus gives you the ability to create groups of teachers for differentiating reporting and more efficiently sharing internal resources in the system (like sending a copy of a benchmark assessment to “All 6th Grade Teachers”). These directions give you the rundown on setting up teacher groups.

💡 Tip: Even if your rostering hasn't been completed yet, create the student and teacher groups you know you'll want to use for the school year. Once rostering is complete, you can then add students and teachers to those groups.


Communicating with Teachers

While determining your district settings (above) is important, communicating with teachers regarding various new-year tasks is vital. The following list outlines some of the key topics you'll want to make teachers aware of.

Rostering

Depending on your district's rostering timeline, you'll want to make sure teachers are aware of when they should expect to see their classes for the new school year. This will avoid any confusion if they login during the summer and don't see any classes, or they may see last year's classes.

Set Class Grade Levels

Once rostering is finished, you'll want to verify whether or not class grade levels have been given to teacher's classes. There are certain functions within Otus that are dependent on class grade levels, so it is important to confirm that all classes have grade levels. Here are directions for teachers to locate, review, and edit class grade levels. We recommend asking your teachers to ensure they review and confirm a grade level is set for all classes rostered to them.

Common/Benchmark Assessments

If your district is using Common Assessments, it is important to share the distribution plan with your teachers. Will you be using folders? Will assessments be shared as locked assessments? Are teachers going to be creating their own assessments? Details such as these should be worked out and communicated to teachers before the new school year begins. Learn more about best practices for creating and distributing common assessments here.

Gradebook

A common question teachers have, especially in the beginning of the year, is why they aren't able to see grades in their gradebook (standards, specifically). If your district is using the standards view of the gradebook and multiple grading scales, it is important that teachers know how to filter the gradebook to see the grades for specific grading scales. More information on navigating the standards view of the gradebook can be found here.

Parent/Family Communication

In some cases, districts choose to send Otus information to parents/families through district-wide or school-wide email communication. In other cases, it may be up to the teachers to distribute Otus information to the parents/families of their students. Whichever route your district decides to take, make sure teachers know the expectations for parent accounts, how those parents/families will be getting their student's information, and what to do if parents/families reach out to the teacher's with Otus questions.

Otus Training Resources

  • Otus Live: Each week, our team records short, bite-sized training videos on various aspects of Otus. More information can be found here.

  • Help Center: Teachers can search or browse our extensive knowledge base of topics.

  • Otus Certified Educator: Free, self-paced classes to deepen teachers' knowledge of Otus.

  • Otus Community Page: Learn about upcoming workshops, webinars, product updates, and more!

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