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Most colleges and universities post student grades online and have been for quite some time. Now, a growing number of K-12 teachers are doing it too. Is posting grades online right for your school? This week, Education World writer Sherril Steele-Carlin talks with educators who have been doing it for some time. Included: Online resources and discussions about online grades and free software you can use to post your own grades online.
Kristin Humphries, a seventh-grade teacher in Davenport, Iowa, told Education World, "My students love the fact that they can check their grades online from school or home at any time. I update the grades at least twice per week, depending on how many assignments we complete. It takes only a couple of minutes to update all five classes."
"I use online grading because it's much easier and quicker for me," said Ralph Martin, music director at Vacaville (California) Christian Musical Arts School. "Once I have the software set up, I just input the grades and hit 'send.' All the grades are automatically e-mailed to my students and/or their parents."
Martha Crook is the director of technology for the Park City (Utah) Schools. For about a year, teachers there have been putting the middle and high school grades online. "We get a lot of feedback," Crook told Education World. "The parent component is really positive. [Parents and students] can get attendance reports, final grades, and those kinds of things. The communication between the school and home has increased dramatically, and the parents absolutely love it." Between 50 percent and 70 percent of the families in the district use the service, Crook reported.
POSTING GRADES MEETS MANY NEEDS
More and more teachers are posting student grades to class Web pages. It's a growing trend, made easy by software packages and special online communities.
Posting grades online helps parents keep in touch with how their kids are doing. According to the National Coalition for Parent Involvement in Education (NCPIE), that is a good thing. "When parents/families are involved in their children's education, children do better in school," NCPIE officials said. "Schools improve as well."
PARENTS LOVE IT!
Teachers love it. Parents love it too! According to a SeattleInsider.com poll, 91 percent of the parents said they think online grading is a "great tool to help track my child's performance."
"Parents love [online grading] because I give out all the passwords to [them] so they can always check out their child's grades. They can also do this from home or work," added Humphries.
Martha Crook is also the parent of two teens in Park City. As a parent using her own technology, she said, "at different times [my kids] aren't really thrilled that I can go in on a daily basis and check 'were you in school, did you get your grade slip,' all these different things. But from a standpoint of their being responsible, both of them check their own grades on a regular basis, so it's a real accountability thing for them too, and I'm really pleased with that, that I'm not going in and being the heavy all the time."
One of the controversies over education on the Net is that it may not be available to parents who do not have computers. Park City is addressing those concerns in a number of ways. The service Park City uses for its online grades also offers a phone service. Parents can call and get grades, attendance, and other information over the phone. The school district also has set up computers in the district office, the public library, and other locations, where students and parents who don't have computers can still check grades online.
NOT FOR EVERYBODY
Not all educators can keep up with posting grades, however.
"I haven't posted the grades since the middle of the second quarter for lack of time," Tom Hutchison, a math teacher at Iola-Scandinavian High School in Iola, Wisconsin, told Education World. "I'm not sure if I will continue to do so or not."
"I'm the only person [posting] because of a number of reasons -- server space, time, organizing the Web site," said Hutchison. "Most teachers do not know how to upload grades to the service provider. I am not sure if teachers are interested in it or not. I don't think that many of the teachers even know that I do it."
However, added Hutchison, "When I did post the grades, I know that some parents and students would use it to check grades."
PLENTY OF RESOURCES!
Schools and school districts that are searching for ways to post grades online have plenty of options to choose from. Most companies offer online services directed at school administrators and teachers. They host online grading, administrative reporting, and many other options -- most on their own servers, so the school district doesn't need to worry about additional hardware. This is a real bonus for cash-strapped schools that can't afford to upgrade their computing resources.
If the teachers we talked with are a good indicator, posting grades online will get easier and more commonplace in the months and years ahead. This tool for connecting kids, teachers, and parents online can open up the lines of communication between school and home and can help keep kids on their toes. It's a tool whose time has come!
This site offers free software for educators who would like to post their students' grades online. The site provides an online sample of how the software works.
Teachers don't need software with this site. After joining, they can set up a secure grade book and much more online.
ThinkWave (Starter Edition)
ThinkWave is another free online resource for grading and is accessible by parents, students, and teachers. ThinkWave's enhanced version is available for sale.
This is another Web site that caters to schools, with a variety of services school districts can use.
Yet another online tool helping teachers post their grades.
Gradekeeper and FERPA
How does GradeKeeper protect the privacy of student educational records?
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Article by Sherril Steele-Carlin
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