‘I will not check my son’s grades 5 times a day’

I Will Not Check My Son’s Grades Online Five Times a Day  vows Jessica Lahey in The Atlantic. Her son’s high school lets parents access information on their children’s academic progress, attendance and grades.

My husband and I handed the letter over to my 14-year-old son with the promise that we will not be using the system to check on his grades or attendance (or anything else). In return, he promised to use the system himself and keep us appraised of anything we need to know.

More than 80 percent of parents and students who can access student information remotely check in “at least once a week…and many users check multiple times a day,” Bryan Macdonald, senior vice president of PowerSchool, tells Lahey.

When I posted a challenge on Facebook encouraging friends to join us in eschewing PowerSchool, I received many comments and emails, none of them neutral. Either PowerSchool and its ilk are best thing that’s ever happened to parenting or the worst invention for helicopter parents since the toddler leash.

“We just talk to our kids,” responded Elena Marshall, mother of eight.

Teachers and administrators have mixed feelings, Lahey writes.

I like that parents can check grades and I encouraged them to do so. I feel that open communication between home and school is essential in educating children, and only sending midterm and final grades home makes grades seem like a big secret. With parent access on PowerSchool, there are no secrets.  I am bothered, however, by parents who CONSTANTLY check…sometimes 5 or 6 times a day. These parents tend to be the ones who push their children the hardest and are the first to complain when grades aren’t entered on the DAY an assignment is due. As a language arts teacher with 60 papers to grade, I just can’t do that!  I’m not sure parents realize the school can see how many times they access the portal. –Mindi Rench, mother of two and junior high literacy coach and education blogger

Teacher Gina Parnaby tweeted that PowerSchool is a “Bane. Stresses my students out to no end. Freaks parents out b/c they see grades not as a communication but as judgment.”

Let’s assume that crazy parents will use the access to feed their craziness. But there are sane parents who aren’t sure how well their kids are doing in school and would appreciate a heads up before it’s too late to save the semester.

About Joanne


  1. Crimson Wife says:

    My parents used to ask me after every test and major assignment what grade I had received on it. This may be more technologically advanced, but the same basic principle.

  2. She will need to enter the 21st century.

    Once a school’s set up a portal like this, the school tends to use that portal. I assume she wants to know something of what happens at the high school, unless she expects her child not to take part in any activities.

    Power School includes a calendar and school bulletin page. I predict the school will not send home extra newsletters informing parents of field trip permissions, meningitis outbreaks, or upcoming meet-the-principal nights.

    Our local principal was quoted in the paper, encouraging parents to check our local online equivalent, saying “some parents will be very surprised” (in reference to their children’s attendance.) Many parents believe their children won’t cut school. Not all of those parents are right. Once the information is available to parents, the school won’t go out of its way to contact the parents. Not for high school students.

    Missing all that info seems like a high price to pay for feeling morally superior.

  3. Ann in L.A. says:

    We have a kid who tends not to turn in assignments; it’s nice to be able to check if she’s missing anything.

    She’s not about to tell us–a Typical conversations at our house:

    Adult: How’d your test go.
    Student: I don’t know.
    A: Was it easy.
    S: eh.
    A: did you get your other test back?
    S: yeah
    A: how’d you do?
    S: okay.
    A: what do you mean by okay?
    S: Ugh! (stomps away)

  4. I find this to be a very good solution to parents who are constantly rushing and are constantly busy. No matter how much we want the world to be perfect but it isn’t and couldn’t be that is why some parents fail to check on their children at school and look at their grades. This is a good tool to monitor how your children does at school.

  5. Obi-Wandreas says:

    I don’t need the parents of my kids to check five times a day. I would settle for “ever”.

  6. ime, the classes where there are issues are the classes where the teachers don’t post anything promptly…nothing will be up before the end of the quarter and even then the assigned papers won’t be graded until the end of the year. Some of them don’t even have a grading scheme before the quarter ends (and no they aren’t grading on a curve. They just never wanted to commit to a scheme that weighted hw/tests/participation in a particular way. Can’t blame ’em..too many nonparticipants to hold them all back.

  7. Our district uses one of these all-in-one systems and I absolutely love it. Calls from parents asking about baby’s progress have dropped to almost nothing because they can look baby’s progress up online, and the calls I *do* receive are of higher quality; calls went from “How’s my baby doing” in the past to “I see that baby has no grade for this test; did he/she miss it or have you not entered grades yet?” now.

    Of course, for the system to work well, teachers have to be diligent about keeping it updated. To some, that’s a hassle, but I like it.