The Sunk Cost Fallacy of Focus (rough draft)

The Sunk Cost Fallacy, is when you know something is bad but you keep spending money on it hoping you can somehow turn things around.

Focus is the districts new computer program and it had me tearing my hair out and cursing under my breath on my planning period today.

I haven’t met a solitary person who has said, you know that Focus, so glad we got rid of oncource our last brand new program.

Lets continue for a minute, outlook, which replaced our old e-mail system about six months ago isn’t so great either. Today it informed me I have eleven days to change my password, the third time it has instructed me to do so in six months.

Then there is SEAS the districts new IEP program, and where I hate Focus, I really hate SEAS. It is stuck in the 2014-15 school year.

Who knows maybe the bugs will be worked out of all of above and either I will come to understand and appreciate them but barring that I will muddle through occasionally tearing out my hair and cursing under my breath. I feel like I am flying a plane while trying to build it have the time.

The thing is how much money have we sunk into these things and what are the benefits? Especially is we can’t get any of them to work right.

Welcome to Duval County.

12 Replies to “The Sunk Cost Fallacy of Focus (rough draft)”

  1. That is something that I cannot understand. How is it that Focus cannot automatically save grades instead of making us keep hitting that red 'save' button? How is it that Focus cannot already run progress reports without thrusting an additional step onto users? Other than being able to combine multiple sessions in one class, I am not sure that I can say anything nice about Focus.

    1. Focus will automatically save your grades after a few seconds. What I don't like and OnCourse was the same, is that if you are entering grades on the main input screen, and the cursor jumps somewhere you don't intend and you don't notice, you could end up wiping out grades and not knowing it. I would like a feature where I do enter the grades and only when I am satisfied with the input, do I click a Save button.

      These doggone laptops … you accidentally drop your thumb and it hits the touchpad and the cursor jumps around the screen. Very irritating. Fortunately, I know of a utility to download from the Internet–Touchpad Blocker. It disables the touchpad whenever someone is typing on the keys and reenables it after a half second pause. Problem solved.

      Also, do you show videos and then the laptop shuts down after 15 minutes because of a stupid state rule that originated when office workers wouldn't lock their computers when they walked away from their desks? And then you have to relog in and back the video up while the students goof off? You can prevent that with another useful utility–Mouse Jiggle.

  2. I really miss the feature where you could see all their grades for every class. As a chorus teacher, I had to confirm that each student had a minimum GPA to participate in certain outings. How am I supposed to do that now that the best I can do is see their last "posted" grade which may be weeks old.
    I've always tried to teach the "whole child". If I saw that one of my students was doing poorly in a core class, I may pull them aside sometime and say,"Are you going to turn in that Science assignment you missed so you can get that grade up? " Often times they need to hear it from more than their parents. Sometimes kids would later seek me out to tell me they got their grade up. "Did you see my grades now???" They'd be really excited. I'm sure I'm not the only teacher who did this.
    It was also helpful to see how their doing overall, not just in one class. It seems quite obvious that this program was chosen by non-teachers.

    1. I think (not totally sure) that you can do this by going to the student info tab and pulling the student's info onto your screen. Then there is a tab you can click on to look at grades. Click Progress Report 1 and you can see this year's grades. I don't know if this is live, though; you may not have been able to do this until teachers finalized grades for the progress report.

  3. Oh, and how about the teacher website? I thought we were trying to move forward, but the website feature is definitely a several steps back. I hate the way it looks and works!

    1. Definitely sucks. The District has asked the vendor for an upgrade. Meanwhile, at my school, we were encouraged to use outside sources (I use even though that does not comply with District policy.

  4. How many changes do we have to undergo in one year, and why can't any of them be successful? We have horrible curriculum that "regretfully" is not aligned to the FSA. We have computer programs which are not user friendly, even when functioning properly. Most organizations look to purchase programs that create more efficiency through fewer keystrokes, thus maximizing users time toward other efforts.

    So, who holds the district accountable?

    1. I think that's it… "account"able. FOCUS must have been just plain cheaper than Oncourse. That's the only plausible answer. They don't care how frustrating it may be for the teachers as long as it saves $, albeit $ they'll throw away in one way or another. Interestingly, I don't think the charters are using FOCUS except for their final grade entry. Makes one wonder why…

    2. The goal was admirable; the implementation was not. Focus combines many sites and programs into a one stop shop. Vitti wanted to replace Genesis. With Focus, a lot of other programs can also be stopped as well. One advantage is that info does not have to wait overnight to update. If a school registers a student in the morning, that student immediately shows up in everyone's classes. Focus is website-based whereas Genesis had to be installed on each computer for admins and clerks. However, I agree it doesn't meet expectations. Who can find their current curriculum guide on Focus? Bwa-ha-ha-ha.

    1. Our school also did the 20 minute version, BUT we had an additional training at the end of last school year where we were encouraged to "play with" the training version throughout the summer to get used to it. Yeah, right. I'm sure we all had time for that.

  5. It's hard learning new systems. Under our current modus operandi, we go through change for change's sake. Over the many years of my life and several industries, I have learned that it is a sign of a weak manager who has to change everything his predecessor did. A better manager builds on his predecessor's work rather than throwing it out to have his name on all the programs. One more reason I think Vitti doesn't have the chops to run our district.

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