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Using Parent Portals to Improve Education

Tuesday, January 24, 2017 | 12:00 AM

The coursework for an online master’s in degree in educational leadership typically includes curriculum on collaborating and consulting with parents and the community. In the past, parent-teacher communication constituted merely an annual meeting and phone calls or email as necessary. Today, however, parents are more connected than ever to their children’s classrooms through the use of parent portals. Some estimates report that over the past decade, school districts in the U.S. have poured more than a billion dollars into their parent portals and student information systems.

Increased Parental Involvement

The growth of technology in schools has benefited parent-teacher collaboration. Many teachers find that parents are more motivated to be involved in school matters when they can easily access information through school websites and parent portals. Parents can log on to the school’s portal to check multiple aspects of their children’s academic performance, including attendance, grades, behavior and detailed comments from teachers about the students’ classwork.

Parent portals should not replace traditional methods of communication between teachers and parents. Instead, parent portals should support more-involved conversations. Educators hope that parents can use the information available through parent portals to become more involved in giving their children a learning-centered school experience.

Transparency in Grading

Another benefit of the proliferation of parent portals is an increase in the transparency of grading systems at schools. In the past, parents might only learn about their students’ performance once every six weeks through progress reports. Often, parents did not know how teachers calculated six-week- or semester grades, so they did not know how to help their children improve. With access to grades throughout the semester through parent portals, parents can now follow how teachers calculate students’ grades.

Parent portals establish communication between parents and teachers, and they provide grading transparency to help parents resolve students’ performance issues. Parent portals become particularly beneficial as students transition into middle and high school, when parental involvement in school traditionally begins to drop off.

Teachers have long sought increased parental involvement in their children’s education. Technology might not solve all of teachers’ problems getting parents more involved in school, but it is a solid step forward.

Learn about University of Texas Rio Grande Valley online M.Ed. in Educational Leadership program.


Education Week: Parent Portals Open Grading Discussions

Harvard Family Research Project: Data Sharing Through Parent Portals

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