The connection between the home and school is often touted as an important element of a student's academic success.
In one local school district, an Internet bridge is about to enhance that connection.
Parents of students in the Springfield Local Schools soon will be able to boot up their computer and track their kids' grades on a day-by-day basis to see if assignments are turned in on time.
The district is implementing a Web-based classroom management system, called ProgressBook, that will keep track of every student's academic performance, attendance, and demerits and make them immediately available to parents 24 hours a day, seven days a week.
Letters are going out to households containing a user name and password that parents can use to log on to ProgressBook to access their child's information through the schools' Web site.
"We've been working on it since August," Superintendent Cynthia Beekley explained. "Parents can look at all class information and whether an assignment was turned in. They'll be able to see the latest grades. They'll have access anytime."
ProgressBook will be accessible from any computer with Internet access. The $40,000 annual cost to the school district will be defrayed by adding $2.50 to each student's activity fee per semester.
Teachers will update each student's record on ProgressBook on a daily basis and can leave notes for parents.
Ms. Beekley said she expects improved communication between teachers and parents as a result.
"I think our teachers are very excited about it. I think they're excited about the opportunity it gives them to communicate with parents. It will also be available for students to use to see how they're doing if their parents give them access. I think this is an opportunity for us to use technology effectively," the superintendent said.
Springfield parents are also able to access information about their children's cafeteria food purchases through another tool available at the district's Point of Service link at each school's
By logging on at www.springfield-lucas.K12.oh.us, parents can track both account balances and lunch items selected by each child.
"This has been a key to including parents in our wellness initiatives," Ms. Beekley said.
Isabelle Dickerson, 16, a sophomore at Springfield High School, said she thinks ProgressBook "is a good thing and a bad thing. It can be a good thing because some students are lazy, and if their parents see it, they can change it," she explained. "But I think it would be a bad thing if you're sick and it goes on your record that you didn't turn in an assignment or something."
For sophomore Chad Campbell, 16, the prospect of his parents' having all the details of his school performance at their fingertips is no big deal.
"It's not going to bother me. My parents think it's a great thing," he said.
The teens said ProgressBook has not been a hot topic of discussion among the high school's student body.
The school district will hold a free ProgressBook training program for parents at 6 p.m. Feb. 12 at the high school.
"We're looking for a good turnout," Ms. Beekley said.