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Parents will be able to access student data on the Internet

April 09, 2007|by ERIN CUNNINGHAM

WASHINGTON COUNTY - Report cards don't always make it home. Assessment scores aren't always easy to understand.

But soon, Washington County parents will have Internet access to their children's grades and test scores, said Robert C. Brown, Washington County Public Schools coordinator for the office of testing and accountability.

The information will be available for parents at the start of the upcoming school year, and parents will receive information on registering for the online accounts during the first week of school.

Teachers, administrators and central office staff have been able to access student information.

The accounts through Performance Matters were available for students at E. Russell Hicks Middle School this school year through a pilot program. About 70 parents used the program to view their children's records, Brown said.

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Performance Matters offers a variety of tools for public school districts to make effective, timely decisions, according to the company's Web site.

Its main offices are in Florida and Georgia.

Washington County Public Schools began using Performance Matters during the 2004-05 school year at a cost of $160,000, according to schools spokeswoman Carol Mowen.

For the past two years, the contract fee has been $120,000.

Brown said adding access to student detail reports for parents will not cost any additional money.

He said students cannot access their own information online, but information is shared with students in other ways. The scores and grades in Performance Matters also does not compare students to each other.

Board of Education Member Bernadette M. Wagner suggested during an April 3 work session adding something to the reports that puts those scores in perspective and helps parents to understand what the scores mean.

Brown said workshops are available to help parents understand the information available to them.

Board Member Ruth Anne Callaham questioned whether everyone would be able to use the Performance Matters student detail reports, since many people do not have Internet access.

"It wasn't that we will guarantee that everyone has access, but that there's the potential for access," Wagner said. "(We might) consider something for parents without Internet access. (They might) sign up to receive a printout with the report card. We can be as creative as we want. These parents have a right to this information, too."

Part of federal No Child Left Behind legislation requires school systems to find ways for parents to be more involved at the school level, Brown said.

"This helps us address that," he said.

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