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Powerschool Can Be Addictive

The good and the bad sides of so much information.

Hello, my name is Sue and I’m a Powerschool-aholic. With the exception of Diet Coke, which I’m pretty sure I could give up with minimal side effects, I don’t really have any addictions. At least I didn’t until I got hooked on Powerschool. Before Powerschool, parents had to rely on conferences, progress reports, report cards and the occasional email or phone call to let them know how their child was doing in school.  Then, all of a sudden we have current access to grades for every assignment, quiz, test and project our kids do, or don’t do.

Truth be told, I’m not sure if this is a good or bad thing.  In listening to parents and students I’m hearing a little of each.  On the one hand, it allows us to be informed consumers.  Before Powerschool we usually had a general idea of how our kids were doing in a given class but there were always those surprises.  A grade would take a nosedive and we had no idea until the progress report came out.  Powerschool eliminates these surprises, which can dramatically cut down on the post-report card drama.  

On the other hand, too much information can drive you and your kid crazy.  I’ve heard a few stories about parents who are obsessively checking Powerschool daily and drilling their kids on each new grade. Not only is this a prime example of “helicopter” parenting, it constantly puts your child in the stressful position of having to defend every grade. On the other hand, it allows parents to stay on top of their kids grades and address an area of difficulty before it becomes a problem.  

 A parent of one of my students told me her straight A son was compulsively checking his grades several times a day.  Not healthy. If your child is a Powerschool junkie, please change your password and only allow your kid to check once or twice a week with you present. Actually, it wouldn’t be such a bad idea to allow access only to those families where the student is underperforming.

There is also the question of responsibility.  At some point we have to trust our kids to do what they need to do.  If we always catch them before they fall, they will never learn to stand on their own. Personally, I try to only look at Powerschool once a week for my younger son (and not at all for my graduating senior because it causes my blood pressure to soar and my eye to twitch, but that’s a whole other article). So, if you too are addicted to Powerschool , take a deep breath, step away from the computer, and remember that admitting you have a problem is the first step to recovery. 

Ed Brown June 02, 2012 at 02:26 PM
Powerschool is a great tool for parenting and a weekly review how I used it. It allows transparency from teacher to parent; parent to student and you hit it right on the head that it eliminates surprises. No longer does a teacher need to explain during a parent-teacher conference for 10 minutes what lead to the child getting a D or F and allows the conversation move to a more progressive and corrective path to help them. I especially like the teachers who are proactive enough to list the upcoming tests and quizzes. One skill many students lack today is planning and forward looking and allows parents help their child be better time managers in preparing for those key events. I would challenge a parent, who does not appreciate Powerschool tool, is a parent who wants to be blameless in their child's education process. Education is a partnership.
Ed Brown June 02, 2012 at 02:34 PM
@ Victoria - My son had an English teacher that was like that. Not very helpful tool in those situations.
Dr. Mark Solomon June 02, 2012 at 06:52 PM
My parents always told me that they had already been to school. They let me know they were available if I wanted any help. They showed interest anytime I talked about something we were learning. They went to parent-teacher conferences. I'm quite sure they would not have had any interest in Powerschool because they were not responsible for how I did in school -- I was.
Tadashi June 03, 2012 at 02:58 PM
For those of us who don't know could you please tell us what Powerschool is before telling us why you are addicted? Need a little more background, please!
Susan Schaefer June 05, 2012 at 11:57 PM
Powerschool is an online gradebook. Parents can log on and see their childs grades in each subject as well as every assignment, project, test, quiz, etc. If you do not know about powerschool, your school district probably doesn't use it.

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