Online grade-tracking programs are popular, but raise stress levels

The New York Times reports that a profusion of online programs that can track a student’s daily progress is changing the nature of communication between parents and children, families, and teachers … and sometimes increases family tension. Software programs such as Edline, ParentConnect, Pinnacle Internet Viewer, and PowerSchool are used by thousands of schools, kindergarten through 12th grade. Although a few of these programs have been available for a decade, schools have been using them more in recent years as federal reporting requirements have expanded and home computers and fast internet connections have become more common. Citing studies showing that parental involvement can have a positive effect on a child’s academic performance, educators praise the programs’ capacity to engage parents. But sometimes there is collateral damage: exacerbated stress about daily grades and increased family tension. "The good is very good," said Nancy Larsen, headmaster of Fairfield Ludlowe High School in Connecticut, which uses Edline. "And the bad can become very ugly." At an age when teenagers increasingly want to manage their own lives, many parents use these programs to tighten the grip. College admission is so devastatingly competitive, parents say, they feel compelled to check online grades frequently. Parents hope to transform even modest dips before a child’s record is irrevocably scarred…

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