Kids, don't bother hiding the report card

MILFORD – Everyone remembers that kid who would take his report card to the local hangout and, with great care and skill, change his B’s to A’s and his C’s to B’s before going home and showing it to his mother.

Nowadays it would take a student with superior computer hacking skills to do the same thing.

Many local school districts are now using student records management software that allows parents to go online using a secure password and view their children’s grades, as well as their attendance records and even their lunch balances and assignments.

This year, Milford High School is beginning to use a program called PowerSchool, which is also in use in the Wilton, Merrimack and Bedford schools. The Hollis school district is looking into it.

“It’s a pretty exciting tool,” said Laurie Johnson, Milford’s

assistant superintendent of schools.

Nothing is available to parents, yet, said Johnson, and “teachers are just learning how to use the grading program. We can’t rush it. We have to establish accounts for all parents.”

There are many kinks to work out, she said, but the program is potentially useful for all kinds of school situations.

For example, if a particular bus is running late, the school could pull up on the computer just those parents whose children use that bus and call them.

But probably the first things parents will see will be their children’s attendance records.

“It may even flag if the student doesn’t show up for a class,” Johnson said. “It’s a pretty cool thing.”

Out of a total of 4,126 students in the Bedford school system, 3,084 have a parent or parents who have registered with PowerSchool, according to Technology Director Karl Haven.

“It’s a very high-quality product,” said Haven. “It’s a 21st-century look at managing student records.”

Haven praised the application because it allows a high degree of interaction with students, parents and teachers.

Dr. Leo Corriveau, SAU 63 Superintendent, said the new software – Wilton-Lyndeborough Cooperative middle and high schools, but not the elementary schools, use PowerSchool – has been “a great communications tool.”

“It puts three people on the team – the student, teacher and the parent,” he said.

In Amherst and Mont Vernon, parents have a host of Web sites they can check to follow school assignments, lunch balances, and, for the high school, progress reports and report cards. Many teachers use Schoolnotes, a public site, or Angel, a password-protected site, for assignments and other information for students and parents. Parents can also sign up for access to trimester grades through an online program from Modular Management Systems for Schools.

In Nashua, Rick Farrenkopf, the school district’s technical director, said the district recently converted to X2 Aspen software after two years of research. “It’s a huge undertaking,” he said. “We probably won’t implement the parent portal until next year.”

X2 Aspen has the benefit of a special education module, he said, that allows the creation of IEPs, which are the individual education plans drawn up with the help of parents and staff that every special education student needs to have.