For the past two years, The District has utilized an on-line gradebook system called PowerSchool. I love it. I can update grades at home, run reports on missing work, progress reports, and probably reports I haven't thought of yet. Parents can check grades any time of the night or day, see that work is missing, and can even get grade updates emailed to them. Students hate it because parents can keep a really close eye on what they are, or more precisely, what they are not doing.
District surveys show that about 89% of our parents have access to email and a computer. I send out a weekly email to about 85% of my parents, so despite being one of the poorer buildings in the district, our numbers aren't too bad. Last year to save paper, they put the Code of Conduct and Student Handbook on line and parents had to sign a form saying that yes, they reviewed it with their kid or no, they needed a hard copy. This year I had one kid in my homeroom request a hard copy. So everything sounds hunky dory and all our parents are utilizing PowerSchool.
Except they aren't. I can go on-line and see the last time a parent or a student accessed PowerSchool and you would be amazed how many of them either haven't ever logged in, or how many logged in in August and never came back. Getting a password is not a challenge - they've been sent home at least twice, there is a table staffed by guidance at nearly every school event (except sporting events) where people can get their passwords. And I'm not the only teacher who sends out a weekly email that mentions checking grades in PowerSchool and to "contact Guidance Goddess at blah blah blah to get your password if you need it." Every single parent meeting we have we mention PowerSchool and if we get that blank look, we walk the parent down to Guidance, get their user name and password, and hopefully they can figure it out from there. All it takes is a little effort.
Last year The District decided that enough parents were on PowerSchool and that we would cease sending home paper Progress Reports. The Principal nixed that idea and said we'd keep sending them on paper because "it's the right thing to do", and since we had a feeling based on our numbers that PowerSchool wasn't being utilized like it should be. Considering the number of parents that went "What's PowerSchool?" when asked, we figured that we'd better do the paper thing.
This year we find out, courtesy of a front page story in the newspaper, that The District is moving to online report cards and will not be sending home paper report cards for the first grading period. Wonderful idea about moving to the 21st century, saving paper, going green, blah, blah, blah, blah...and parents that don't have access can request a paper report card, blah, blah, blah...
The Principal, again, said we'd send home a paper report card because "it's the right thing to do."
On Friday, there is an update to the news story - apparently the District folks did a survey of PowerSchool usage (probably prompted by the deluge of phone calls they received from people that wanted their passwords) and discovered that only 20% of the families in the District have ever logged on to PowerSchool.
Let me repeat that...20%. That's it. 89% supposedly have access to a computer but only 20% have made the effort to check their child's grades.
That silence you hear is the sound of parent involvement, or, more precisely, the lack thereof.
My team sent home 97 report cards. I had 47 students fail science for this nine weeks. To date, I have not heard a peep. No email, no call requesting a conference, nothing.
It's like they don't even care.
And we wonder why the kids don't care either.