Students’ performance now being tracked online

By Tony Parra

It used to be that parents would have to wait for a report card to find out how their children were doing in school. Not anymore, not with the Internet at their disposal.

At the click of a button, parents can check on their children’s grades, attendance and lunch room balance, all by logging onto the Portales Municipal Schools Web site. They can also see what activities are scheduled and what went on during school board meetings on the Clovis Municipal School District Web site.

“My mom does it all the time,” said Krista Montoya, a Portales High School senior. “She checks to see how I’m doing in school all of the time.”

Montoya said she checks her grades also to make sure everything’s been updated.

“It’s good to know what you’re missing or to know if something’s wrong.”

Loretta Ramos, Montoya’s mother, said she checks her daughter’s grades.

“It’s a nice tool,” Ramos said. “A benefit to it, is that I can check it at any time. It works around my schedule.”

The Portales and Clovis Web sites allow parents to be more involved and know more about what’s going on at their child’s school, according to technology directors at the schools.

Portales uses a program called Powerschool to track students, according to Mike Rackler, director of technology at Portales.

Clovis is considering a similar program, officials said.

“I would like to be able to see my grades online and be able to see my class schedule in advance before the start of the school semester,” said Austin Graham, a Clovis High School sophomore. “Seeing my lunch account and how much money is left would be nice, also. I think it would be good for our parents to see our grades.”

David Whitehead, information technology director in Clovis, said the district looked into Powerschool.

“We want to have a program that is more global,” Whitehead said. “A program which will allow for people to apply for jobs within the district and allow our employees to review paychecks. That’s the vision for our Web site.”

Whitehead said parents can view a calendar of events and school menus. The students can take practice SATs, view scholarships and job opportunities.

“It’s a big benefit to the parents,” Whitehead said. “Especially for parents from Cannon Air Force Base who are stationed overseas. They can view the schedule of events and activities their children are participating in from Okinawa, Japan.”

Rackler said the Powerschool option has been in place since September 2004. He said after the first school year, 15 percent of the parents accessed student information on the Web site. He said that number has increased to 31 percent for the current school year.

Jessica Adkins, a Portales High School junior, said she checks her grades on the Web site, also.

“I like it, because you can check on your grades without having to interrupt your teacher,” Adkins said.

Jessica’s mother, Laura, said she likes the Powerschool program because she can e-mail her teacher and keep in constant communication. Laura Adkins also teaches teen parenting classes at the high school. She said as a teacher there are also informative links about training, conferences and state education policies.

Melvin Nusser, Portales High School principal, said a training session will be available April 7 for parents during parent/teacher conference day.