South Bend Schools to start Power School program to keep parents more involved

This summer, while students take a break from their studies, their teachers will be studying up.

South Bend Community School Corporation employees will learn to use a new program that will change the way teachers and parents communicate.

Hours and hours of training will allow school officials to manage student information through an updated system.

“After 20 years, we’re moving into 21st century,” said Mary Chris Adams, director of technology services for South Bend Community School Corporation.

Soon, they will be able to provide a new kind of student progress report.

“It's a huge transition, it’s six months of solid work,” Adams said.

A click of a mouse and a scroll down the page will be part of the way both parents and teachers track students' work.

“This will be a twenty four by seven operation where parents wherever they are at school, library or at home, can look through the web and see how students are progressing,” Adams said.

It is all part of a program called Power School that will be offered to South Bend students starting in August 2012.

A program that aims to take the mystery out of report cards.

“The one nice thing for parents is that there will be able to look and see every day,” Adams said. “They wont get a surprise after 5 weeks or 9 weeks.”

Superintendent Dr. Carole Schmidt said this will help parents to step in before kids get too behind in school.

“We want to be able to intervene at the early stages rather than what I call the trailing indicators, because then it is too late,” Schmidt said.

She said this is another way to keep the communication open between parents and teachers.

“To the extent that we can create more opportunities for the parents to get involved, make it easier for them, then the better the better chances we have of having that connection with the students,” Schmidt said.

And, with more access for parents can come more awareness of academics for children.

“Knowing that somebody is watching…from one perspective the message is ‘I care about you,’ from the other perspective its someone is holding you accountable for this,” she said.

No matter the schedule, Power School is one factor decreasing the barriers to parent involvement.

“We have parents who don’t have access, we have parents who don’t know how to interact with the child’s teacher, who simply don’t have time working three jobs,” Schmidt said. “We have to come at this as many ways as we can.”

Other important information like student allergies will also be displayed for teachers on this program to keep everyone up-to-date on student needs.

Meantime, Elkhart Community Schools is already using "power school."

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