Parents of middle- and high-schoolers are facing a new anxiety: whether or not to check their kids’ grades in real time.
In many school districts, middle school is the first time kids receive letter grades. In itself, this can be a difficult transition. Until then, parents mostly only get basic indications that their child is—or isn’t—meeting state standards. In recent years, districts around the country have begun requiring teachers to submit grades for every assignment, quiz and test into online grade books, and have granted students and parents access to them through websites or apps. Many participating schools also send parents text or email alerts when new grades are posted, and when assignments are missing.
The argument for online grade books is that they allow parents to detect a problem before it mushrooms and to intervene, say, with tutoring. Knowing students’ grades before report cards come home can also prevent unwanted surprises.
But this new feed of information shifts the responsibility for academic performance from the student to the parent—or at least it can feel that way. And in an age when so much data is at our fingertips, how much is too much? When parents start checking grades so often, what should they be doing with that knowledge?