When Curious Parents See Math Grades in Real Time
Ever since her 12-year-old twin sons went back to school in August, Catherine Durkin Robinson has been telling herself, “Steer clear. Think first, and keep away,” she says.
The hazard she’s avoiding? Logging on to her school’s online grade-reporting system to see how her boys are doing. When she checked their grades online late last year, “I saw Cs and I almost lost my mind,” she says. Her sons’ teachers later explained that the grades weren’t up-to-date and that Zachary and Jacob were actually doing very well. But it was a shock she’d rather not repeat, says the Tampa, Fla.-based manager for a nonprofit education organization.
It’s a parent’s dream—or nightmare: More schools offer online systems that let families track grades, attendance and other student-related information. In the past five years, the number of schools using such systems has more than tripled, to an estimated 25% to 35% of U.S. public schools, says Rich Bagin, executive director of the National School Public Relations Association in Rockville, Md. Parent use is likely to expand faster in coming years, as more take advantage of the systems’ mobile apps, Mr. Bagin says.
Some parents place the systems squarely in the too-much-information category. Crystal Patriarche took one look at her kids’ online system and said, “Omigosh, I don’t have time for this,” says the Chandler, Ariz., website editor and mother of three. “There’s so much coming home in their backpacks every night,” she says. “It’s too much work, too much information, one more thing to add to my already full plate.”