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Rossford: Students' progress to be by computer

Rossford elementary school teachers will soon be putting down their pens and firing up their computers each day to take attendance or to send in their lunch counts.

The Rossford Board of Education recently voted to use ProgressBook, a Web-based software program that will allow teachers to take attendance, order cafeteria lunches, plan lessons, monitor each student's progress, and transfer grades to the administration, all by computer, said Steve Doughten, elementary technology director.

"There's no reason to be doing grades by hand anymore," he said. "The user interface is simple, it's nice because it's Web-based, and teachers will be able to access it wherever there is an Internet connection."

The program will cost the district $6,500 this year, because that price includes developmental costs, and will cost $5,500 for each subsequent year, according to Vince Krolak, district technology director.

Mr. Doughten said parents will soon benefit from the program as well, because they will eventually have the capability to view their own child's progress, grades, homework assignments, missing assignments, and teacher comments over the Internet.

"Parents eventually could see the homework the child has for that night and how they are doing in each class," he said, adding that they will only be able to access information about their own children.

Mr. Doughten said 25 teachers will be trained to use the program by a ProgressBook specialist on April 5. He said the training will take about an hour and a half after school, and the teachers will be using the program until the end of the school year during the pilot period.

He said he hopes to have all teachers using the program by May to submit their attendance to the school secretaries and lunch count to the cafeteria workers so they will be comfortable when the program officially starts in the fall and all the teachers begin to use the grade book capabilities.

Mr. Doughten said he hopes to turn on the parent Internet viewer in January, 2006.

Teachers at Rossford High School and Rossford Junior High have goneRoss through the training to use a similar program called Pinnacle for the past few years, which is why ProgressBook was not implemented at those grade levels, said Diana Hersch, district communications liaison.

She said ProgressBook's design flexibility was key in choosing it to implement for the different types of report cards at the elementary-school level.

"ProgressBook has been received very readily at the elementary-school level," she said. "It seemed to be best tailored for our needs."

Teachers in the Northwood Local School District have been using ProgressBook since the beginning of the school year at the high school and junior high school levels, Superintendent Ron Matter said.

He said parents have had the Internet capabilities since November, and believes the program has been well-received.

"The parents I've talked to can appreciate it and I think it's been a real positive thing," he said. "We have this great tool and we need to take advantage of it."

He said the district plans to implement the program at the elementary-school level in the 2005-06 school year.

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