Spying on middle school kids

I tried out PowerSchool for the first time last night. That’s the tool middle and high school parents can use online to track their kids’ grades and homework assignments.

Anyone with more experience want to share their thoughts on the program? I did an initial report on it for my day job.

And do I have the only new middle schooler who is complaining about back and neck pain from all the books he has to lug around in his backpack? Poor kid is also lugging his drum home today — luckily Mr. Singley has drums in the band room so he won’t have to haul it in every time he has band!

4 thoughts on “Spying on middle school kids

  1. Powerschool can be a great tool but it can become addictive and counterproductive. There are benefits when teachers are up to date and put current homework assignments on it as well as the details of assignments. Parents need to plan their families lives around projects and homework and having assignments ahead of time helps. Teachers make mistakes too especially when they have 100+ students. Woe to the parents who check it 5 times a day, though. No good will come of that. So just like everything else, it can be good or bad. A little goes a long way.

    The kids resemble pack mules with their backpacks on. Even when they are allowed to keep some textbooks at home the backpacks weigh as much as a well fed toddler! This could play a part in determining the choice of musical instrument. There was once a push to have all teachers use the all-in-one binder system but that didn’t work as some teachers still used their own system. It wouldn’t work for all teachers and students anyway.

  2. Bellingham didn’t have a middle school (insert long cranky story) so I had grades 6&7 in an elementary school that had tables instead of desks. We stored and carried all our materials in tote trays. They were brutally heavy in the later grades!
    Backpacks weren’t mainstream until college, so I have vivid memories of carrying 4, 5, even 6 textbooks and notebooks home in my arms on the bus. Ugh!

  3. As a High School History teacher who used Powerschool, I have mixed emotions.

    The good part is that I like to see parents involved. You wouldn’t believe how many parents don’t give a flying hoot.

    The bad is that every teacher does things differently, and Powerschool often oversimplifies this fact. For example, if I’m a teacher who weighs tests over classwork (I’m not!) and the parents miss that important fact, then they could end up extremely confused and angry. Take good old Johnny…he is a kid who is passing in mediocre homework and doing average classwork, and he and I both know that when my big nasty test comes rolling around, he’s going to get slammed. If the parent checks prior to the test, they see …yeah, he’s got a 75 average and that’s all I wanted to know…so I’m going to stop checking powerschool, lay off my kid, and we’ll live happily ever after. Well, then I submit his F test grade, and that average falls into a D, and we got trouble. The parents says…why didn’t you tell me, I say I told you he needed to work harder, they say ..yeah but I checked Powerschool two weeks ago….etc etc. Of course there is a lot of conversation that takes place along the way, but if the parents don’t first understand how teachers run their class, Powerschool can easily exacerbate problem.

  4. They were very clear during the PowerSchool orientations about weighted grades. The principal said they field a lot of 6th grade parents’ calls at the start of the year due to confusion about tests counting more than homework and percentages not adding up. All the teachers stressed this at the open house as well.
    I see it as something I’ll check maybe once a week. The kiddo so far is managing his workload well and is very enthusiastic. I can see the temptation to just obsessively check it, but that might take time away from obsessively checking blog stats… (record highs again this week!)

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