Monday, May 05, 2008

Parents can monitor their kids' grade, attendance in real-time now

When you’re a tween or a teen, you feel that your first act in life is school. In fact, school seems like your whole universe. For some kids, grade become the currency – unfortunately perhaps, but inevitable given a meritocratic society. Remember the pulsating telltale heart was the teacher passed out the graded algebra test? Oh, the last one was five word problems. Miss one, B-. Miss two, D-. Well, maybe there was part credit. Sometimes questions have parts (especially in college and graduate school). Or the history test. That might have been multiple choice, especially today in this SOL-obsessed world.

Already, many teachers have taken to posting up-to-date running grades by student number on their classroom doors, compiling tests, quizzes, homework, lab, and projects or papers. It’s a particularly popular practice in big science courses.

Now, kids might find their test grades on home computer inkjet printouts on their beds, or from the parents before family dinner (or even family home evening). There is a proliferation of companies that offer schools the ability to keep a daily real-time database of their kids’ progress, and school districts are jumping on board. The monitoring extends beyond test and quiz grade and tackles fundamentals like attendance and tardiness, too (maybe even too many bathroom breaks, that some schools count). They include Edline, Pinnacle Internet Viewer (this link is typical), PowerSchool, and Parent Connect (this link is typical). Kids feel they are being spied on and complain vociferously on Myspace and Facebook, which parents and often schools monitor.

The New York Times story, Sunday May 4 in Styles, is “I know what you did last math class: Programs that let parents track grades in real time are popular but can stress out families,” link here.

ABC's Good Morning America covered the practice, too, this morning (Monday May 5), “Online programs allow parents to track kids’ grades step by step; about Parent Connect, with a survey here.

Television station WJLA (ABC) in Washington reported today that at least two school districts in Maryland are starting to use Parent Connect.

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