Online grade books are helping students and parents keep up with student progress. Its possible to check for results on exams, papers, and overall progress throughout the term.
At Celebration High, students can check grades every day on their phone or portable device, and log into a website where teachers post marks and results for assignments and tests.
The 18-year-old senior Foster Starks likes that the online grade book helps him keep tabs on how he’s doing. But the constant checking and the occasional unnerving mark — whether it’s a flubbed quiz or a grade entered in error — “induces a lot of stress,” he said.
In most schools, online grade sites have replaced traditional grade books, and unlike the books once kept in a teacher’s desk, the Internet versions are available to parents and students most anytime.
They aid parents looking to help their kids keep on top of schoolwork, alerting them to problems in real time, long before a printed report card would go home. But the ability to see grades 24/7 can fuel parental hovering and student anxiety.
Foster’s mother, Cassandra, said she quickly regretted signing up for the “alerts” offered by the Osceola County school system, which emails messages for any grade less than an 80.
“Sometimes a kid is going to mess up on a test,” she said. “Does it necessarily mean I need to get on top of it right then? Sometimes we go overboard.”
The sites also can go quickly from convenient to maddening when they crash or teachers don’t input grades as quickly as their eager users would like. And though they are used regularly, even obsessively, by some, educators worry about parents who never log in at all.
Online grade books became popular several years ago, with the Orange County school district adopting ProgressBook in 2007, and Seminole County putting in Skyward in 2011. These and others provide links to grades, teacher comments and upcoming tests and assignments.
Seminole introduced Skyward when Rebecca Graber’s son, Matt, was in middle school.
Matt, a bright kid “with a propensity to go off course,” had done just that, his parents discovered when they logged in. Some of his grades were awful, his mother said, in large part because he was disorganized and wasn’t turning in assignments.
Checking Skyward daily helped them track what was due when.
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