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Published: Sunday, 1/19/2014 - Updated: 2 months ago

Digital progress reports help students, parents in Sylvania Schools

BY NATALIE TRUSSO CAFARELLO
BLADE STAFF WRITER
A view of part of Caity Hoffman's PowerSchool report. A view of part of Caity Hoffman's PowerSchool report.
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Every weekday morning at 7:15 a.m., Sylvania resident Julie Hoffman checks her email to get an update on her daughters' progress at school.

“It’s the first thing I look at. They leave for school around 7:10 a.m. and I check (their grades) on my phone at 7:15 a.m.,” she said.

Ms. Hoffman, who is on the Sylvania school board, and her children, Caity, 14, and Emily, 16, each have separate logins to the Sylvania school’s intranet site PowerSchool. Ms. Hoffman has the online system email her daily progress reports of the two Northview High School students’ classes, one email for each. Another email gives her an overall view of their grades, tardiness, and absences.

Each parent and student is given a login to the site for grades 6 through 12. The online system, in place for five years, details upcoming assignments and grades on past assignments, and provides communication between teachers and parents. Another bonus, said Ms. Hoffman, is comparing current grades to grades of past years.

This year, the system goes totally paperless, as the usual paper printed report cards given at the end of the grading period for junior high students will not be sent by mail unless a parent does not have access to the Web site.

“So many people were going online checking grades, so it was a no-brainer to go totally paperless,” said Nancy Crandell, district spokesman.

The district is going to evaluate whether kindergarten through fifth grade will also start using the site, once curriculum changes are settled.

“Because of the new standards with the new Core Curriculum at the elementary level, and so much is changing, it was decided upfront we weren’t going to go to PowerSchool with (those) parents until it’s all done,” Ms. Crandell said.

The elementary grades are on a different type of grading period than junior and high school students. Elementary students are graded by units and receive a progress report instead of a report card as the upper classmen do.

One day last week,  the week before final exams are given for second quarter and first semester classes, Ms. Hoffman notices an upcoming opportunity for extra credit in one of Caity’s classes. She quickly questions Caity about it. Caity, a freshman, who is using the week to study, replies it is one of the things she is tackling that day.

“A lot of the teachers put the grades online before we get the physical assignment back. It helps improve my studies because if you didn’t do well on something, you see how that single grade affects overall GPA,” Caity said.

Also she sees that the extra credit assignment will boost her grade in one class.

Her sister, on the other hand, said the instantaneous access to grades can, at times, be a little unnerving.

“Having quick access makes it more stressful and everyone is more competitive about grades,” said Emily, a junior.

This week is final exams, and Friday is the district’s records day, the deadline for teachers to submit final exam grades. Ms. Crandell expects the report cards will be finalized by the weekend and students can see their test results on PowerSchool.

Contact Natalie Trusso Cafarello at: 419-206-0356, or ntrusso@theblade.com, or on Twitter @natalietrusso.



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