Classroom Technology

As Oklahoma Schools Move Grades Online, Conversations Change

By Megan Rolland, The Oklahoman, Okla. (MCT) — November 28, 2011 4 min read
  • Save to favorites
  • Print

The days of students skipping class without their parents finding out or hiding an F on a midterm report card may be in the past as school districts embrace technology and instant notifications.

“The conversation that happens at dinner tables across the county every night is changing,” Norman Public Schools Superintendent Joe Siano said. “Today a parent doesn’t say ‘What did you do?’ He asks ‘How’s that social studies project that’s due on Friday coming?’”

That more-informed dinner conversation—driven by tools such as real-time online grade books and email notifications—is the key to better schools and a more involved community, Siano said.

Norman Public Schools launched an application for smartphones last month that allows the district and schools to send messages directly to the iPhones or Androids of those who download the free application.

The School Connect Application already has been downloaded 10,000 times, and 78 school districts across the country are in the process of reviewing the free tool for their schools.

Edmond Public Schools adopted an entirely online report card system, using an online grade book that the district has had in place for about six years.

At the district’s three high schools, only about a dozen parents have requested to get the paper-and-ink report cards—and one of those requests was for a scrapbook.

Digital Demand

Even the creators of the School Connect smartphone application for Norman Public Schools didn’t realize how high the demand was for schools to be at the forefront of technology.

“We did not believe that it would take off this quickly,” said Steve McDaniel, owner of School Connect. “We knew that it would be something a lot of districts would be interested in due to the communication side of things. If you look at the school district, it’s really hard to communicate with the community right now unless they have a kid in school.”

The free application that can be downloaded by anyone changes that.

Using the application, anyone can select a school to follow and get instant updates to their phone with things such as school closures, important events or the next school board meeting agenda.

And the communication works the other way, too. With the touch of a link, application users can email their board members or a principal.

Edmond Public Schools and Oklahoma City Public Schools both are in line to launch smartphone applications in December.

Grades Online

Edmond Public Schools has had an online grade book system in place for six years, but this is the first year that it is the primary source of grades for parents and students.

“They see their grades as they’re put in, so if they want to check on their students every day, they can,” said Paula Eastham, systems analyst for Edmond Public Schools. “It’s not like waiting weeks for that report card to come home and having no idea what you’ll have.”

The Edmond Public Schools grade book also shows absences and tardies.

And parents can set up automatic notifications to alert them if their child’s grade falls below a certain level, or if it rises to a certain level.

“Everybody I know loves it,” said Jan Reiley, mother of two students at Edmond North High School. “You can log on at anytime, pull up your student’s current semester, and it will show all of the classes, teachers and current grades. If you go into the particular class, it will show you all the grades, like he got this on his homework, this on this quiz. And if anything’s blank, it will tell you.

“Say your child is really struggling in biology to get the grade above a B, when it reaches 80, it will email you, then you can buy them a chocolate shake,” Reiley joked.

Now that her students are in high school, she doesn’t check the grade book as often, helping her teens prepare for the independence of college.

When her children were in middle school, Reiley and her husband checked the grade book once a day and then in high school they cut back to once a week. Now that her daughter is a senior, they rarely check the grade book.

Digital Divide

Siano said while his district is pioneering the smartphone application, using an online grade book system and rolling out an $11 million project to improve technology in the classroom, it isn’t abandoning the traditional newsletter or parent-teacher conference.

“Technology should never replace the real one-to-one communication between the teacher and parent and student about how their child is doing and what ways we can work together and make that successful,” Siano said.

“It is a tool and an enhancement, but it doesn’t replace the relationships with parents and relationships with kids.”

There’s also concern of the digital divide, Siano said, which is why the district is not replacing traditional modes of communication, but adding to them.

Many parents don’t have access to a computer or the Internet at home, and for lower-income families the cost of a smartphone is prohibitive.

As some schools move increasingly toward using websites and emails to communicate with parents, those without the technology may be left out of the conversation.

“It’s something that we’ve kept in mind,” Siano said. “I think the key word is enhancing communication tools, not deleting communication tools.”

Related Tags:

Copyright (c) 2011, The Oklahoman, Okla. Distributed by McClatchy-Tribune Information Services.


Commenting has been disabled on edweek.org effective Sept. 8. Please visit our FAQ section for more details. To get in touch with us visit our contact page, follow us on social media, or submit a Letter to the Editor.


Events

This content is provided by our sponsor. It is not written by and does not necessarily reflect the views of Education Week's editorial staff.
Sponsor
Teaching Webinar
What’s Next for Teaching and Learning? Key Trends for the New School Year
The past 18 months changed the face of education forever, leaving teachers, students, and families to adapt to unprecedented challenges in teaching and learning. As we enter the third school year affected by the pandemic—and
Content provided by Instructure
This content is provided by our sponsor. It is not written by and does not necessarily reflect the views of Education Week's editorial staff.
Sponsor
Curriculum Webinar
How Data and Digital Curriculum Can Drive Personalized Instruction
As we return from an abnormal year, it’s an educator’s top priority to make sure the lessons learned under adversity positively impact students during the new school year. Digital curriculum has emerged from the pandemic
Content provided by Kiddom
This content is provided by our sponsor. It is not written by and does not necessarily reflect the views of Education Week's editorial staff.
Sponsor
Equity & Diversity Webinar
Leadership for Racial Equity in Schools and Beyond
While the COVID-19 pandemic continues to reveal systemic racial disparities in educational opportunity, there are revelations to which we can and must respond. Through conscientious efforts, using an intentional focus on race, school leaders can
Content provided by Corwin

EdWeek Top School Jobs

Teacher Jobs
Search over ten thousand teaching jobs nationwide — elementary, middle, high school and more.
View Jobs
Principal Jobs
Find hundreds of jobs for principals, assistant principals, and other school leadership roles.
View Jobs
Administrator Jobs
Over a thousand district-level jobs: superintendents, directors, more.
View Jobs
Support Staff Jobs
Search thousands of jobs, from paraprofessionals to counselors and more.
View Jobs

Read Next

Classroom Technology Q&A Pandemic Fuels Tech Advances in Schools. Here's What That Looks Like
One district chief technology officer calculates the pandemic has propelled his school system as many as five years into the future.
7 min read
onsr edtech q&A
Getty
Classroom Technology The Future of Blended Learning: What Educators Need to Know
More than two-thirds of educators expect their use of blended learning to increase during the 2021-22 school year.
8 min read
onsr edtech blended
Getty
Classroom Technology Why School Districts Are Unprepared for COVID-19 Disruptions, Again
Bad state policy, misplaced optimism, and a focus on full-time virtual schools left districts scrambling to educate quarantined students.
11 min read
onsr edtech hybrid
Getty
Classroom Technology Opinion Some Teachers Are New to Laptop Integration. Here’s How to Manage It
Let students help set expectations and make sure both you and they know how to use the tools are just a couple suggestions educators offer.
15 min read
Images shows colorful speech bubbles that say "Q," "&," and "A."
iStock/Getty