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Tri-State school officials might post grades online

February 14, 2005|by ANDREW SCHOTZ

andrews@herald-mail.com

At least a few Tri-State area school districts might soon put students' grades online - for parents' eyes.

"That's the next wave," said Jack Appleby, principal of Greencastle-Antrim High School in Franklin County, Pa. He predicted it happening there in the next 12 to 18 months.

This is the first full year Hedgesville High School in Berkeley County, W.Va., has used a detailed student information computer system for teachers and administrators, Principal Don Dellinger said.

In another year, parents might get a chance to log on, too, he said.

Washington County is considering a similar districtwide system that would include parents, but there's no definite proposal yet, said Patricia Abernethy, deputy superintendent for curriculum and instruction.

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She said the district will talk to parent and employee groups for ideas. By the end of the year, a proposal should be ready, she said.

Abernethy and other administrators say teachers try to keep in touch with parents, especially through e-mail, but more contact wouldn't hurt.

"Anytime you can improve communication between school and home, it's an advantage, especially a secondary school, where there seems to be less parental involvement," said Frank Aliveto, deputy superintendent of Berkeley County Schools.

West Virginia's schools are connected through a statewide system that has students' schedules, attendance and grades.

The West Virginia Education Information System (WVEIS) carries broad, cumulative information about students, while teachers keep classroom updates in GradeQuick, said Andrew Cohn, the vice president of sales and marketing for Jackson Software in Glencoe, Ill., which makes GradeQuick.

So, while WVEIS tracks class schedules and report cards, GradeQuick records the most recent grades or how a student did on the latest homework assignment, Cohn said.

Dellinger said another example is attendance: WVEIS lists the days a student was absent and GradeQuick shows how much of the school day the student missed.

Hedgesville's teachers and administrators can access the information. Parents can ask an administrator to look up something, Dellinger said.

Each county school can decide to put student information online and let parents see it, Aliveto said.

Cohn said some schools might be eligible for federal money to improve their computer systems.

There is a limited system in place in Greencastle now, Appleby said.

Juniors and seniors taking an online class called "Women in Science" can check their grades online, he said.

Opening up access to grades and other student information "would help us significantly with communication," Appleby said.

Children commonly tell parents nothing's going on when that's not true.

Knowing that parents have a quick way to check "in itself would be a great change in the culture," Appleby said.

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