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Report Cards Now Retro, Parents See Grades Instantly Online

By Annie Gilbertson | Published 08 Aug 2011 10:20am | comments
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It's back to school for Mississippi's students, and this year, many rural districts are looking to technology to help them compete with their urban and suburban counterparts.   MPB Education, Reporter Annie Gilbertson, reports on the swell of online grade books.
It's the first day in Ms. Holt's US History class at Lafayette High School in Oxford. She has simply rules for success - mainly, do your homework.
With several classes, it can be tough for students to keep track of assignments for Algebra and essays for English while studying science and social studies.  But this year, Holt says her students will have an easier time keeping up with homework, and so will their parents.
Holt:   "I definitly think parents will become more involved in the homework process.  And even parents that don't have internet access at home, most of those parents do have smart phones."
Holt posts assignments well in advance and has just three to five days to enter grades in the system so parents and students can keep abreast of progress.
Lafayette County schools implemented the new system only after a survey reported 70% of the students had Internet access at home.
Other less rural districts integrated the technology years ago.  Sally Gray remembers when an online grade book called Active Parent first hit Tupelo Public School District.
Gray: "My own children hated it because I could keet up with their grades on a daily basis."
So, ideally, if a student misses class or a homework assignment, parents will know immediately. But Gray found that the technology didn't solve parent communication across the board.  Parents that were always involved stayed involved: those that weren't, tended to stay on the sidelines.
Jan Lacina is an education professor at Texas Christian University, and former technology columnist for the journal, Childhood Education.  She says while online grade books can be a helpful tool,  it doesn’t solve the problem that very little innovation has been made in how student's are assessed.
Lacina: "Often times these grades book are not conceptualized with the developmental needs of the younger child's mind.  For examle, they may not take into consideration the child's culture, language or their ability."
Still, as the use of mobile browsing devices grows more popular, many educators believe online grade books will likely replace report cards entirely in the not so distant future.
From the Southern Education Desk, for MPB News, I’m Annie Gilbertson.


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