Aspen 5.2 Highlights. We re listening to your feedback to make Aspen even better

Aspen 5.2 Highlights ™ ower p Em C A T U ORS. D E e learn i pir s n I ng. We’re listening to your feedback to make Aspen even better. With Aspen ...
Author: Amanda Allen
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Aspen 5.2 Highlights ™

ower p Em

C A T U ORS. D E e learn i

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We’re listening to your feedback to make Aspen even better. With Aspen 5.2, we’re introducing a number of features based on your feedback that will increase productivity and better facilitate communication among staff, students and parents. MASS ENTER STUDENT ASSESSMENT INFORMATION We’ve made it easier to input assessment information for large groups of students. With the new Assessment Entry page, users can dynamically select students and then use mass-entry shortcuts, such as fill-down. Select students by course, section, homeroom, grade level, group, query or snapshot. You can even customize which assessment fields appear on the page using a field set, allowing you to maximize the efficiency of the display and helping ensure you’re typing the right score for the right assessment.

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We’re looking to fully integrate all of our systems. We had disparate systems. We had an SIS, an IEP, all from different vendors. So we had to do a lot of plugging in. And now we’d like to unplug and put them all in one database.

A new search mechanism makes it easier to find coverage when marking a staff member absent. Upon taking staff attendance, the school administrator can assign temporary staff for an absent teacher – options include substitutes, staff in the same department or all staff. For absences of one day, you can assign different temporary staff to each of the teacher’s class periods. Temporary staff members have access to the teacher’s attendance roster for the period being covered. If you want, you can also give them access to the teacher’s gradebook.

CALCULATION OVERRIDE FOR FINAL AVERAGES By default, all staff members can use district- and school-defined formulas for calculating a student’s final average. But this one-size-fits-all approach isn’t always appropriate. That’s why we added the ability for teachers to modify and override the Final Average calculation in their gradebook. When this preference is enabled, teachers can see the district-defined formula alongside an editable formula. If the teacher modifies one of the values, it is recorded as a calculation override. The district can monitor all calculation overrides (read-only) in the School and Staff views, and teachers can always see (and revert to) the original district formula. Teachers also have the option to “Apply Weights to Other Classes” that share the same transcript definition.

NICOLE STEWART, Data and Decision Support Services Manager, Richmond City Public Schools

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ASSIGNMENT DATE DUE AND DATE ASSIGNED LOGIC When creating a new assignment, the required fields “Date Due” and “Date Assigned” are pre-populated with the current date. In many cases, a teacher will want to move these dates into the future and therefore needs to change both of these values. We’ve enhanced this function with new logic that detects when the Date Assigned has changed and intelligently updates the Date Due to prevent one from preceding the other, which is an error, and to save you a few clicks every time you create a new assignment.

GRADEBOOK RUNNING AVERAGES FOR THE ENTIRE YEAR Similar to the Semester Running Average, a new “Overall Cumulative Average” feature calculates the average across the entire year. Depending on your preferences, the Overall Cumulative average can appear in a teacher’s gradebook and the Family and Student portals. The Overall Cumulative Average can help ease communication among teachers and parents regarding a student’s overall performance. An additional advantage is that this column is available regardless of how many grade terms you defined.

SHOW THE ORIGINAL GRADE ENTRIES IN THE FAMILY PORTAL In Aspen™ 5.0, we enhanced the Family Portal score tabulation to convert assignment scores into percentages, so that a graph could be produced that allows you to visually scan a student’s performance. Now we’re adding the original grade entry (e.g., “A+”) in parentheses after the percentage score to illustrate what the teacher actually entered in the gradebook. Now parents and teachers are working from the same set of data, and parents can better understand how an individual letter grade is factored into overall score performance.


They seem to be almost a step ahead. We kind of come up with a problem or question, and it seems like they’ve already started to develop some solutions for it. EILEEN SPINNEY, Principal of Dumbarton Elementary, Henrico School District

Additionally, we’ve improved the color scheme of the bar charts to increase the readability of the percentages, making it easier to read at-a-glance.

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It’s user friendly. PAULINE GAITHER, Assistant Program Analyst, Richmond Public Schools

Currently, Aspen™ allows you to decide when to update GPA/Rank when adjusting a student’s grade; the two functions are tied together, but you can choose to run it every time or just a few times per semester. We’re providing better clarity and flexibility by converting this single option into two options, allowing more flexibility in choosing when to update and when to rank. When this preference is enabled, individual checkboxes on the page let you select which action to take. If you’re used to the existing methods, don’t worry – it’s still fully supported using the appropriate “forced” preferences if desired.

RESET THE SEATING CHART If you make a mistake while creating your seating chart – or if you change the layout during the first weeks of the new year – you can now quickly reset the seating grid in the event you want to rebuild your seating chart.

QUICKLY GENERATE FORM LETTERS Using the new Quick Letter functionality, you can dynamically select a list of students based on their attendance, grades or conduct and generate a form letter on-the-fly. Use the rich text editor to design your letter and even incorporate data fields, calculated values or custom expressions that insert data into each message before printing.

GET THE NOTIFICATIONS APP (VIA THE APP STORE) Ever wanted to be alerted when a student has been added or dropped from your class? Or notify your staff with time-sensitive information without fear of getting buried in their inbox? A new native app for iOS and Android™, in conjunction with new functions in Aspen, will have the ability to send push notifications from a school or district to a smart phone, providing a more efficient and immediate messaging system among administrators and staff – and even parents and students. Districts can author and send custom messages with icons that appear on a phone’s lock screen, and recipients can browse a historical record of all messages within the app. Staff users can also receive alerts when students are added or dropped from a course, and parents can receive grade threshold alerts or notifications when resources and blogs are added to Pages. Look for the “Follett Notifications” app in the Apple App Store and Google Play™ Store. SM

Apple and App Store are trademarks of Apple Inc., registered in the US and other countries. Google Play is a trademark of Google Inc. Android is a trademark of Google Inc.

Extend the reach of your school library at [email protected] 877.899.8550 | If outside the US, contact us at [email protected]


Powerful Features for Evolving Districts In addition to making things easier to use, we’re introducing a number of other features that extend the capabilities of Aspen™ to meet the growing needs of districts. MEASURE ELEMENTARY INSTRUCTIONAL TIME By incorporating your custom business logic, elementary coursework can now be scheduled to calculate and report on instructional time per subject within a single classroom.

RESERVE SEATS FOR STUDENTS To help you manage wait lists and hold lists for non-enrolled students, you can now reserve a certain amount of seats from the enrollment maximum for a particular section. There’s a new “Use Reserve Seats” option in the Build and School views. Imagine that you have a section with an enrollment maximum of 30 and a reserved seat count of 5; once there are 25 students enrolled in that section, when you attempt to add another student, you’ll be required to purposely “use a reserved seat,” so you know you’re dipping into your reserves. Aspen will only utilize a reserve seat when all other seats are filled. It’s a great way during Build and Load to identify students who couldn’t be placed and assign them to one of your reserved seats.


I really like the framework for customizations. MARK ORDONEZ, Manager of Data Services, Maine Township High School

USE POSITIVE ATTENDANCE In the majority of districts, students are presumed “present,” and a teacher is asked to mark students “absent.” We’ve added a preference that reverses the user interface to let you collect attendance positively: students are presumed “absent” unless a teacher marks them “present.” This preference can be enabled at the course, section and daily attendance levels, and is intended to assist with compliance issues in certain districts.

SET UP AM/PM DAILY ATTENDANCE Currently, Aspen lets you capture daily attendance. This enhancement allows for a second daily attendance – or “AM” and “PM” attendance – to be logged. More than just a special code, when a school enables “second daily attendance,” a second Attendance Code appears. In addition, you can generate an independent attendance record (including reason codes and comments).

Extend the reach of your school library at [email protected] 877.899.8550 | If outside the US, contact us at [email protected]


SUSPENSION PER-YEAR LIMITATION Currently, Aspen™ lets you set limits on the number of suspension days per incident (such as, no more than 5 days per incident). We’ve added the ability to set a per-year limiter as well (no more than 10 days per year). This helps you monitor and control the amount of time students are suspended.

DESIGNATE A SIBLING AS A COURIER To minimize the distribution of duplicate mailings and handouts, we’ve added the ability for a school to designate one sibling as the family contact for mailings and lists. During the registration process, a registrar can register related students. The student details contain an embedded list of related students, and one of these siblings can be assigned as a “courier.”

GRADEBOOK MODAL CALCULATION Teachers have access to numerous statistics around assignment and post columns, including the average, median, high and low score and standard deviation. We’ve added the ability to view the “mode,” or the score that occurs more often than any other. Now when you view the Score Statistics, you’ll see “Mode” listed under Median. If there is more than one result for the data set, each modal value is listed in ascending order, separated by a comma; if all values occur at equal frequency, (e.g., everybody got full credit), “No mode” will be displayed.


To learn about these features and more, go to the Help menu in Aspen. Here, you’ll find release notes and user guides, as well as links to videos, training materials and more.

Extend the reach of your school library at [email protected] 877.899.8550 | If outside the US, contact us at [email protected] ©2014 Follett School Solutions, Inc. 11268A 10/14