CAMPUS: SCHS students and faculty express issues using the new Aeries system

In the past, SCUSD has encountered problems with the previous grading and resource platform School Loop. Thus, the district required a system shift. As Aeries has become the new software, some prefer the switch, but many students and teachers have encountered obstacles adjusting to the new system.

Vice Principal Tony Lam explained that few teachers have used Aeries in the past for attendance. Before the 2022-2023 school year started, however, teachers attended training on how to use Aeries, but some find it difficult to use in a realistic classroom setting.

“Once school started and there were students in the class, that is a different perspective,” Lam said. “The majority of our teachers here have never used the Aeries Gradebook before. People are having a difficult time navigating the software and how to do certain things.”

Lam mentioned that at the beginning of the school year, the district offered a few days of drop-in training for teachers who were continuing to struggle using the platform. A personal challenge for Lam was accessibility as his Aeries interface as an administrator is different from teachers’ Aeries interfaces. Lam, however, found the district’s support to be an essential solution.

“I don’t have a gradebook, so what I see on my side of Aeries is not the same thing as what teachers see on their side,” Lam said. “They (the district) usually gets back to me within the same hour of the day when I have a question or I’m trying to help a teacher. I found that to be very, very helpful that there is a resource at the district who can help.”

Additionally, some teachers have found the Aeries platform too complex. Spanish teacher Amanda Vrabel finds Aeries’s settings hard to adapt to.

“The settings are incredibly not user-friendly or intuitive,” Vrabel said. “There’s just a lot of things that I don’t feel I can control as much.”

While Aeries initially seemed beneficial to many as it combines an attendance record and gradebook, unlike School Loop, Vrabel has still found drawbacks and inconveniences.

“All the benefits to having your attendance linked to your grade book I haven’t found useful or even to work as well,” Vrabel said. “Even if I had the settings on my grade book saying (to) automatically drop or add kids, it still wasn’t getting it right.”

English teacher Daniel Eaton also commented on the difficulties he experienced when inputting student grades.

“It was giving me wrong grades, and students were getting wrong grades, so I kept saying there’s a glitch, and I’m trying to fix it,” Eaton said. “There were a few glitches like that where it was showing zeroes where there shouldn’t have been zeroes.”

For many students, accessing Aeries also comes with its issues. Junior Venice Mayor pointed out that the platform is not only time-consuming but also irritating to use due to its faulty programming.

“With School Loop, the grades were there. It was easy to access. The servers didn’t crash as often as Aeries does,” Mayor said. “Aeries doesn’t have a good, reliable server, and it just added on to my anxiety as to whether or not my grades are the way they actually are.”

Freshman Ryan Chan agrees that Aeries is challenging to access and manage.

“The interface is also harder to navigate around, so I feel like if they simplified it a bit more, that would be helpful,” Chan said.

Despite some having difficulties using Aeries, senior Mateo Garcia has prior experience as he used it frequently to access his transcripts and share them with college coaches. Compared to other students, he feels the transition was not as difficult.

“(On) School Loop, you don’t really have access to a transcript. You have to request it from a counselor,” Garcia said. “There was a solid month where coaches were coming to school, and I had to send my transcripts, or transfer them, or just show them.”

Many teachers and staff currently prefer School Loop over Aeries, but despite some technical issues with grading, Eaton maintains an optimistic outlook toward the rest of the school year.

“There’s going to obviously be a period of adjustment,” Eaton said. “I think School Loop feels more accessible, and Aeries kind of feels a little bit more overwhelming. But again, that could be that we’re just not used to it.”