Student course requests are the cornerstone to student-centered master scheduling.The importance of complete, accurate and timely course requests cannot be over-emphasized. In some ways, scheduling with bad course requests is harder than scheduling at the last minute. Quality course requests will decrease the number of schedule modifications needed once the school year starts.
Collect course requests according to site practice. Engage all stakeholders when making course requests. Provide opportunities for teachers, students, and parents to participate in the process. Refer to Data Informed Program Placement for additional ideas about the collection of course requests.
Course Request Options
There are four ways to input course requests into Illuminate. Most sites will use a combination of methods to collect all course requests.
Before You Begin
You must be logged in under the school year for which you are impacting scheduling, as well as a specific school site. Note (in the upper-right corner of your screen) that you are now logged in under the upcoming school year.
If you are not, use the Change Student Set/Site in the upper corner of your screen to log in under the upcoming school year.
1. Click the Scheduling tab near the top of your screen.
2. Under Course Requests, click Edit Course Requests.
1. Enter as much criteria as is necessary to find the student for which you are looking.
2. Click Search.
3. Find your student's name in the resultant list (scroll forward or add additional search criteria if necessary) and click his or her name.
1. If the student belongs to a House (that you must have previously set up through the related step/lesson), you may select it from the drop-down menu and Save it. Students within the same house will be scheduled with teachers/sections that belong to the same house.
2. To acquire a list of courses from which to add course requests for the student, use any Course.
Search criteria by which you'd like to filter courses, then click Search.
Any courses that have been requested will show with the green 'Requested' box next to the course name. To add a course from the list to the student's schedule, double-click the desired course on the left, and it will then appear on the right.
- If a course request was assigned through a Package, a lock icon will appear in the top right and the name of the package will appear underneath.
- If a course request was requested through the Online Student Portal, a cloud icon will appear in the top right.
If there is an alternate course request that will work just as well as another (but should not be added to a schedule in addition to another - such as 2 alternate choices for one Elective spot), drag and drop the desired course on the left (place your mouse cursor over it, "left-click" once but hold the click down) to the similar course already-selected on the right (still holding the click down, move your mouse cursor over the alternate selection until it turns blue, as shown above, and then let go of the mouse).
The alternate course will then appear on the right, as shown above. You may add additional alternate courses, or delete an alternate course (or the request number that houses it) at any time by clicking the blue X icon next to it.
Alternate Course Requests are not second choices. The two course requests work as equal alternates. Alternate course requests do not show up in reports, such as the Course Tally and Student Course Request Counts.
1. To Edit a Course Request, select Edit.
2. This will populate Terms (select the one you want it to apply to), Timeblocks (Periods), Teacher and Priority of the Course Request.
The Student Scheduler uses Course Request priorities as a guide for placing students initially. When the scheduler encounters conflicts it will try to shuffle students around with less emphasis on priorities as it looks for a solution. The ultimate goal of the scheduler is to place 100% of course requests in the allotted time. A Priority 1 isn't a guarantee that a course request will be satisfied.
3. Click Save.
To delete a course request:
1. Click the blue X icon.
2. You will be asked to confirm the deletion, select Yes. The Course Request will disappear from the list.
Packages offer an efficient way to assign course requests to groups of students. It is common that all students in a given grade level need the same course, such as 7th grade PE or 9th grade English. Packages are powered by Student Groups, which makes them flexible to meet almost any site need. Click here for detailed instruction on creating student groups or view the Student Groups Video.
Data-informed Student Groups, in combination with Course Request Packages, become a powerful tool in data-informed program placement. The central tenant of data-informed program placement is the use of timely and accurate date to place students in the course and section that will meet their learning needs.
STEP 1: Create Custom Reports that use multiple data points to identify students for advanced, alternate, and support courses. See Data Informed Program Placement and Custom Reports for more nformation. The advantage to this method is that Custom Reports leverage live data. As student data updates and changes, it can influence scheduling in real time.
STEP 2: Link each Custom Report to a Student Group. Click here for more information.
STEP 3: Use the data-informed Student Groups to assign course requests through packages. Student Groups can be used to create a package or as an exclusion group. Dynamic, multi-faceted student data can now inform program placement in a systematic way.
Custom Reports, Student Groups, and Packages can be set up well in advance. School leaders can build custom reports before all placement data is available. Spring is a busy time on a secondary campus. Use the Custom Report Student Group Scheduling Package workflow to build systems during the fall and winter so scheduling requires less work in the spring.
1. Click the Scheduling tab near the top of your screen.
2. Under Course Requests, click Packages
You will then select Create Package to get started.
1. Enter a name by which you can later identify the package (such as a short description on the type of student to which it applies). These packages are typically named by grade level ex: 6th Grade, 7th Grade, 8th Grade etc.
2. Select the appropriate student group from the drop-down menu.
3. Click Submit.
1. Select the Courses tab.
2. Select Add Course from the dropdown menu and click the > button.
3. Select a course you want to add to the package (so that every student assigned to the package receives this course in his or her schedule).
4. The priority for course requests created via the package can also be set here. The default value is 1, but you may alter it if you like for less-crucial course selections.
5. If this is a year-long course, you should leave the default (Auto Select) selected. If the student can take the course in any term, the default (Auto Select) should be selected. Only select the term when a single-term course must be taken in a specific term by all students in the package.
6. To add more courses, click the + button.
7. Click Submit.
Repeat these steps until you have added all of the package's course requests.
1. Note that you may delete any course you no longer want by clicking the box next to the course name then selecting Remove Course from the dropdown menu. Click the > button to complete.
If you want to exclude a particular group of students from receiving a specific course within the Package this package of course requests,
3. Select the check box next to the course from which you wish to exclude a specific student group.
4. Select Add Exclusion from the dropdown menu and click the > button.
5. Select the desired group from the Select a Group dropdown.
6. Click Submit. The exclusion group will show in the 'Exclusions' column. You can exclude more than one student group per course if you wish.
To remove this group, simply click on the check box next to the group name and click Remove Exclusion.
1. Click on the fork icon next to a course name under exclusions to add a replacement course.
2. Use the dropdown menu to select the replacement course.
3. Click Save.
Your replacement course will display underneath the original exclusion, to remove it at any time, select the X button.
If the same student is listed in multiple student groups, a Conflict alert will appear above the exclusions. Clicking on the link will provide a list of student conflicts, and a link to their Edit Course Requests page. Changes will be logged on the Student Exclusions tab (see below).
The 'Student Exclusions' tab displays any individual students you have excluded from this course. You can re-include these students by clicking on the blue 'X' and selecting Okay when asked if you're sure you want them included again.
1. To edit a package, select the Pencil/Paper icon.
2. To delete a package, select the red Trash Can icon.
Importing Course Requests can be a useful option for school sites that choose to collect course requests outside of Illuminate. Data files can be created in Excel or Google Sheets and easily imported.
If you have course requests in a comma- or tab-delimited file (Excel files can be saved as tab- delimited files), you can import those requests. Your file must be created in such similar column format and adhere to the notes below.
1. The import file must be in a tab-delimited or comma-delimited format. The Course Request import tool does not take Excel (xls, xlsx) formats.
2. Student ID is the only requirement. Courses are match based on the School Course ID (not Short Name or Long Name). Additional columns (Student name, grade level, etc.) can be included in the file for user convenience, but are not used in the import and matching process.
3. There is no limit to the number of course requests a student can have. The example shows 7 requests per student, but you can add as many columns of requests as needed.
4. The priority orders start from the leftmost column and moves rightward. In this example, "YR Course 1" = P1, "YR Course 2" = P2...."S2 Course 6" = P7.
5. For term-specific requests (i.e. a student can only take Woodshop course in S1), ensure they those term specific requests remain as separate columns. In the example, Nicole Garcia has a specific request to get course 4000 in S1. When you get to the Import Course request mapping page, there you will be able to align what columns are specific to a term. Create a separate column for S2 course requests and a third for auto-select course requests.
6. Alternate Courses
- a. Alternates require you use brackets around the courses (i.e. [3000|4000|5000]). Between each course, you must delimit the courses using the pipe character (Shift + backward slash "\" on keyboard).
- b. The first course in the bracketed list is the primary course for that priority. In this example, course 3000 is the primary course request for P6.
- c. The trailing courses (delimited by the pipe character) after the primary course are the alternates. In this example, course 4000(Alternate P1) and 5000(Alternate P2) are the alternates for P5, should the student not get course 3000.
1. Click the Scheduling tab near the top of your screen.
2. Under Course Requests, click Import Course Requests.
1. Use the Choose File button to select the file you want to upload.
2. If the first row/line of your file contains a descriptive header row, check the Header Row option.
3. If you want to replace all of the course requests already in the system with the data in your file, check the Delete existing? option.
Be extremely careful using the ‘Delete existing’ option because it will remove ALL course requests that are in place for the school and session. For example, you are importing a file that has 50 students' requests. Currently in the school and session, there are 500 students with requests already in place. Using this option will remove all 500 students' course requests and import the 50, ending with only 50 students with course requests.
4. To test the entire upload process without actually changing any data in the system, check the Dry Run option.
5. If your file is comma-delimited, change the Delimiter option to Comma. If your file is tab- delimited, select Tab. Your file must be in one of these 2 formats to upload properly. Note that Excel files may be saved as tab-delimited files and then used in this way after they have been converted (if you keep an Excel file in the Excel format it will not work).
6. For Session, select the year for which you are uploading data (i.e., the upcoming school year).
7. Click Submit.
A preview of your data will appear on screen. For each column, specify the type of data that is being uploaded using the Column Type drop-down. If the column contains a type of data that does not appear in the list, select the Ignore option. If a column contains course requests for a particular term, use the Term drop-down menu to select the term to which the column refers. For year-long course requests, or course requests that don’t need to be limited to any particular term, leave the Term option blank. Click Submit to complete the import process.
Importing course requests can be a time saving tool, however it should be used with a degree of caution. The upload is a ‘dumb’ upload, it does not check imported course requests against existing requests in the system. Multiple uploads, or using the upload in combination with packages can result in duplicate course requests. There is no easy way to reverse the upload. Some suggestions:
- Wait until all course requests are collected and do one upload. Make any subsequent course request edits on the Enter/Edit screen.
- Clearly delineate which course requests will be handled through upload and through other channels. Some sites chose to use Packages for all core curriculum and only upload electives.
Student Selection through Illuminate Home Connection Student Portal This feature is being enhanced and will be released by early Spring 2017. Check back for updates.
Course Request Reports
There are several reports that will support the collection and verification of student course requests. This is an overview of the different course request reports available in Illuminate. Reports are permissions controlled, so in order to access them you must have permissions enabled.
Downloadable report (PDF or Excel) listing all course requests grouped by student. This report can be filtered by grade level, house and counselor.
The Course Request by Student report is designed to be read student-by-student. The data is not designed to be sorted and manipulated. If you are looking for a course request report that can be manipulated in Excel or Google sheets, try the Course Request Details report found under the scheduling tab. This report is draft-specific, and lists every course request in a spreadsheet format. Export the report and manipulate to meet your individual needs.
Use this report to quickly identify students that are missing course requests, or have too many course requests.
Lists counts of course requests for each student and the equivalent "block count". A course request for a 1 term course counts as 1 block, a course request for a 2 term course counts as 2. If the block count is not correct, check the Term Length on the Course Details page.
This report can be filtered by grade level, house, counselor and number of course request per student.
Run this report after course requests have been entered and prior to running the course tally.
This report quickly identifies the quantity and names of students who have combinations of course requests. This report may intimidate first-time users, but it is the key to building a student-centered master schedule.
- This report shows you the total student course requests for a particular course.
- Example: There are 33 students that have requested Honors English 8
- As well as how many students of the students who requested the given course also requested the other courses. Use this report to make scheduling decisions to ensure that students have access to their requested courses. You may click any of these numbers to "drill down" to the list of students who requested both courses.
- Example: All 33 students who have requested Honors English 8 have also requested PE. That would be expected; All students take an English course and a PE course. 15 students have requested Honors English 8 and Choir. This is important information. Presumably, there is one section of Honors English 8, and one section of Choir. If they are placed in the same timeblock, 15 students will be excluded from one of the classes. Use this information to inform the construction of the master schedule to meet student needs.
This report is also a great way to spot-check course requests. It can easily identify students that have the wrong course requests assigned. There are some combinations that would be highly unusual: Very few students are requesting English 11 and English 11AP at the same time. Few students take Calculus BC and PE 9. Scan through this report to see if any odd combinations appear, and click on the student names to verify accuracy. This tool may tip you off to incorrect course requests.
The Course Tally is Draft-Specific because you can bulk-create sections right from this screen.
A table of all courses categorized by requests by grade level and term including the overall number of requests, number of suggested sections, actual number of sections to create, and average number of students per section.
If suggested section totals are not what expected, you can:
1. Drill into the blue course links to see the students with the course requests for that particular course.
2. Remove or switch the course request.
3. If the student course request is not switched or removed in step 2 above you can drill down to the student level and change the course requests for individual students.
This lesson will outline how to access Course Request data to create a Custom Report and Form Letter. This will allow users to send letters to parents informing them of Course Requests for their children.
Before you create a Form Letter, you need to create a Custom Report housing the data you wish to display on the letter. For step-by-step instructions on how to make a Custom Report, click here.
To add columns or data to your custom report, you will come across the Add Columns page.
1. When prompted to select the type of Meta Data you wish to have on the report, click Core Data.
2. Under Categories, type or scroll to find and select 'Students: Course Requests'.
3. You will see all possible Course Request data options under Matching Columns. Select the ones you wish to have on your report.
At this point refer back to the Custom Report lesson to arrange the data in the way you wish. Be sure to add Student First/Last Names!
Here is an example of what this Custom Report could look like.
From within the Custom Report, you can create and add a Form Letter. This can be any document you create to communicate the data within the report.
You can follow step by step instructions on how to create/download your Form Letter here. Note that the fields you chose on your report are the fields that will become available to put on your letter.
Now that you have completed Course Requests, you are ready to move onto Phase 3: Schedule Parameters and Constraints.