Online programs let parents view kids' grades
In a recent NY Times article we were introduced to online programs that allow parents to track their children's grades. Many parents are choosing products like ParentConnect, Edline and PowerSchool to assist them in conversing with their children about their grades.
As the Times article points out, it cuts out the middle portion of the conversation. The parents know what the grade is, good or bad. There can be no hiding of the grades or pretending they're something other than what they are. ParentConnect allows the parent access to the grade, and lets the child know that information is out there, and that discussion is sure to follow (especially if the grade is less than desirable).
Such programs are currently being utilized by 10,000 schools in all but one of the states. Studies have shown that parental involvement can have an effect on grades, and with test scores being more important than ever these days, many are turning to such sites to assist them in their quest for kids with good grades, even though several of these sites have been around for ten years.
And, perhaps to the dismay of their children--especially older ones--parents can check more than grades. They can see how someone did on a math test as well as whether or not the kid was late to class and if any discipline occurred during the class. As kids grow up they want to be more in control of their own lives; these tools allow their parents to keep control.
Additionally, the systems are fail-proof. A child can receive a failing grade for not being in attendance (say, due to illness) or due to an inputting error. The terror, however, has already been placed in both the parent and the child, making for some harrowing discussions and confrontations that can be, well, stressful--especially for teenagers, who are already stressed out as it is. One teen professed frustration over being grounded twice for the same grade--once when it was read about by his parents online and again the following week when the grade was actually received.
On the plus side, parents who are not in close contact with their children--one mother was stationed in Iraq--can still have interaction and communicate via these programs, and, in one school at least, parent/teacher conferences were canceled and the time given back to classes after parents expressed they felt sufficiently aware of their children's progress after using PowerSchool.
Not all parents have access to computers, however, so not all can take advantage (or, as some teens might put it, disadvantage) of such programs.
Computers pic by Kevin Zollman.