CalCentral problems persist into new semester as system continues development

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As grades, financial aid and other campus information pour in after the end of the fall 2016 semester, problems have come up with the new CalCentral system.

In an update released Friday on CalCentral, users were notified that up-to-date cumulative GPAs, cumulative units and summer 2016 courses on the site would be delayed because of data migration.

The problem is due to a software configuration setting issue, and as of Friday, the Student Information Systems team has completed a fix for the cumulative GPA issue, according to Mariana Corzo, communications manager for SIS.

“That fix is scheduled to be implemented on Tuesday morning, when students will be able to access their updated Cumulative GPA (inclusive of fall grades) directly in CalCentral,” Corzo said in an email.

The update issued on CalCentral also stated the other problems would be “remedied and corrected with our late February release of CalCentral.” Advisers, however, can go directly to SIS Campus Solutions to view students’ grades, according to Corzo.

SIS is in the process of moving and consolidating numerous systems — such as Tele-BEARS for enrollment — to CalCentral, which was created in 2014. According to Corzo, over the next several SIS updates, data from these “legacy systems” will continue to transition to and be updated on CalCentral.

A comprehensive listing of known SIS problems can be found on the system’s website, including each report’s status of completion. One prominent issue was erroneous charges on some students’ financial accounts appearing in October. Additionally, some students on Reddit’s r/berkeley thread issued complaints about delayed grades after the end of the fall 2016 semester.

“Some UC Berkeley faculty, GSIs, and other instructors experienced delays in gaining initial access to the new system and are learning an entirely new way of entering and approving grades this semester,” Corzo said in an email.

Corzo added, however, that completion of fall 2016 grades was consistent with previous semesters. She also said SIS support received few tickets — complaints that CalCentral users can submit with an online form — from faculty regarding grades.

Renee Chow, a professor of architecture and design and the associate dean of undergraduate studies at the College of Environmental Design, said in an email that she had not had any issues with SIS or heard about any problems from academic advisers.

Campus students have taken initiatives to respond to issues with CalCentral by posting complaints and providing feedback in the student Facebook group CalCentral Bugfinders, which now has more than 500 members. The group was created in response to problems with the system at the beginning of fall 2016 enrollment.

UC Berkeley senior Leo Steinmetz issued a letter of criticism of CalCentral in April, mainly focused on problems surrounding enrollment processes in the new system. Eighty students signed a petition in agreement with the letter. Steinmetz said the SIS office responded quickly to the letter and seemed willing to work on the issues, as it scheduled meetings with him and the other authors. But Steinmetz said most issues are still present.

“It is my impression that most of the issues continue to exist and to cause problems for students,” Steinmetz said in an email. “I more or less gave up on trying to get them to make it better about a month after I wrote that letter, because it seemed pretty clear that they had created the system with basically no flexibility, so even when they were willing to make the changes we proposed, they literally weren’t able to.”

According to Corzo, the SIS team proactively seeks student feedback and is partnering with students from the ASUC Student Advocate’s Office to “review design feedback and improvement ideas.”

Contact Camryn Bell at [email protected] and follow her on Twitter at @cbell_DC.