Keeping Parents Informed

My district is implementing a Web portal where parents can access student attendance, grades, test scores, and discipline records. This seems like a good idea, but are there pitfalls we need to anticipate?

Districts that have adopted use of this type of portal report many benefits. Parents and students are able to access a variety of information using a secure, password protected site. Yes, keeping confidential information secure is critical, but software available today makes this manageable.

The major pitfall to avoid is stale data. When parents and students are promised access to up-to-date information, it needs to be available. That means that attendance, grades, disciplinary actions, and test scores must be posted as soon as they are available. Attendance and test scores are easy because updates are typically automated. Grades and discipline records may need to be entered by a teacher, counselor, or administrator depending upon the circumstances. When manual entry is required, it’s easier to fall behind.

Is it worth making the effort to stay on top of data entry? Parents and students say yes. They report that attendance goes up and discipline problems decrease when students know that their parents have immediate access to this information. They also claim that the level and quality of family communication improves when students know that their parents have the ‘straight scoop.’

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