Computer Software Allows Better Student Information for Parents, Teachers, and Students
Remember as a student when you had to sweat out parent/teacher conferences, report card days, or (Heaven forbid) your teacher actually calling home to speak to your parents? Well, those days are over at Urbana High School. Parents, teachers, and students can get information every day about student progress thanks to Skyward Gradebook.
Skyward Gradebook allows parents and students to see and track student academic progress over the Internet. UHS Teacher Matthew Sly explains, “Using this feature, parents and students can login and view points earned on individual assignments, overall grades in the class, attendance, and even upcoming assignments. This provides ‘one stop shopping’ for all parents to go to for their student’s grade information, eliminating the need to go to multiple websites for some teachers and not having any information for other teachers. The current nature of the information also supports intervention in time to fix the problem whereas in the past it would wait four or five weeks until a progress report was mailed home.” Sly also says the Skyward Gradebook helps teachers. He adds, “Another benefit is that the same information available to parents is available to other teachers. This also gives the freshmen and sophomore team teachers the opportunity to look at their students’ grades in all classes to meet their needs. Lastly, this access to real-time grade information allows counselors to support their academic discussions with students and parents with information from the teacher’s grade book.”
Sly says UHS is working to encourage more parents to use Skyward Gradebook. “Parents who have used the Family Access really seem to be excited by the increased insight into their student’s progress. Over the past two years, parents have given me very positive feedback about the information to which they have access. We just continue to try to increase the number of parents taking advantage of the access,” Sly says. As for students, Sly comments, “I think a quote from one of my students says it best. ‘I hate Skyward. I come home and my mom knows exactly how I am doing in class!’ While the average high school student may not be blown away by parents peering into their lives more, many students like using the parent access to check their grades and ask questions of the teacher about their progress. I have seen students using the Family Access at school to check their grades.”
This is the first full year that UHS teachers have been using Skyward Gradebook. Sly thinks it is a great tool saying, “(UHS Principal) Dr. Taylor had a vision for our school, but she also recognized the needs of our staff and the hurdles that would be involved. We had a cohort of teachers pilot the grade book last year in preparation for this year’s transition. I feel like our building has taken a collective step forward to set ourselves apart from other neighboring high schools and serve as leaders in this area. We will continue to evaluate and examine ways that it could better meet our needs and work with the district support and Skyward support on our goal of meeting the needs of our students.”