Keeping tabs on students

By Eric Norwood Jr.

PNT staff writer

Ed and Amy Brown recently began monitoring their four children in the Portales school system through a program called Powerschool that allows parents access to grades, homework assignments, attendance and more.

“It’s cool, I like it,” Ed Brown said. “If we get a progress report that concerns us, we have discussions with our kids about what’s going on in the class. It helps us keep them in line.”

The Browns, whose children range from elementary to high school, said they got acquainted with Powerschool through one of their children’s parent-teacher conferences last month.

“We just did a big push at our parent-teacher conferences to have parents set up their accounts,” said Henry Montano, director of federal programs for Portales Schools.

Gov. Susana Martinez said last month she will ask the Legislature for $1.2 million to fund the “New Mexico Parent Connection” last month. This proposed website will be similar to Powerschool in that would allow parent access to grades, homework, attendance records and more.

Multiple school districts in the state either use Powerschool, or a similar program, according to Montano.

Those districts who already have a program in place would be reimbursed by the state if the Legislature approves Martinez’ request, according to Larry Behrens, a spokesman from the New Mexico Public Education Department.

“It would then free up funds for something else,” Behrens said.

Amy Brown says she is satisfied so far with the program.

“I can’t really think of anything I’d add to it. We get grades, we know if they miss an assignment or a class. It’s been helpful,” she said.

Even teachers have been pleased with Powerschool.

“Powerschool is great for entering and checking grades. Both teachers and parents can check the grades for all of a student’s classes. This really helps with intervention when a student begins struggling in school,” said Amber Garcia, and English and history teacher at Portales Junior High.

Superintendent Johnnie Cain thinks parent involvement will only strengthen the district.

“Anything where we can get parent involvement helps the district,” said Cain.

Montano said as a parent he also likes the program.

“I think it’s great because it creates conversation between parents and teachers. A lot of times as a busy parent it is difficult to make it to the school all the time, so this is how I keep up with my own kids. I get e-mail alerts to my phone updating me,” Montano said.

The Associated Press contributed to this report.

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