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Published: Wednesday, 8/4/2004

Northwood schools plan online gradebook

BY MEREDITH HEAGNEY
BLADE STAFF WRITER

Next year Northwood parents may be able to track the academic progress of their children online, without waiting for progress reports or grade cards.

"The kids don't tend to bring home every paper," said Amy Klinger, middle school principal. "[Parents will be able to] access the information all the time, not just when there are problems."

The Northwood Board of Education has approved the use of Progress Book, a Web-based software for grade-keeping. Teachers will use the program in the fall, but the online feature for parents will not be accessible right away. Ms. Klinger said that faculty need time to get used to the new mode of record-keeping and that parents may be included by the end of the academic year. The program will begin in the middle and the high schools, but will expand to the elementaries if all goes according to plan.

The Northern Ohio Educational Computer Association already provides the service to 16 school districts, including Elmwood and Gibsonburg. None of the districts has utilized the online feature for parents, but New Riegel schools in Seneca County will likely be the first this fall. From there, other districts will follow, said Chuck Getty, Progress Book support specialist for NOECA.

The current price of the software is $6.49 per student, but as more districts sign up, the price should decrease, Mr. Getty said. Northwood is spending $3,102 for the service.

"I'm very enthused about the program and it's definitely growing by word-of-mouth," Mr. Getty said, because of the ease of use for teachers, and eventually, parents.

Since the gradebook is Web-based, teachers don't need to be at school or carry a disk to access their class information. They can plan lessons, order cafeteria lunches, and transfer grades to the administration with the same program. The software also allows teachers to monitor each student's progress by the academic content standards established by the state.

"So, you know who needs intervention and who doesn't," Ms. Klinger said.

Parents will eventually get secured log-in names and passwords to check on their child's progress. Teachers will be able to post grades, comments, and missing assignments. Mr. Getty said that parents will have access only to information concerning their own children.

Ms. Klinger said the software is a valuable tool but will not replace traditional modes of communicating with parents, such as meetings, calls, and notes. She recognizes that not all families have internet access or will choose to use Progress Book.

"This doesn't replace what we traditionally do. It supplements it," she said. "It's creating a link between the teacher and the parent other than the phone or e-mail."

Contact Meredith Heagney at:

mheagney@theblade.com

or 419-724-6050.



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